Review: Burton Cummings @ The Burt
The Burt was overflowing with love, appreciation, humbleness and lots of memories on Friday night, both on, and off the stage.
Local radio legend, Howard Mandshein introduced opener, JD Edwards. If I was a musician, one of my goals would be to get Howard to introduce me.
JD Edwards was tuning his guitar during his intro, but if he wasn’t holding that guitar, I bet he would have done the pointing at his chest “wow…is…is he talking about me???” thing. Yeah JD, he was talking about you! Wasn’t that awesome?
What was even more awesome, was that I had JD Edwards on my list of musicians to see, and he did not disappoint. Oh my gosh, I loved his sound. I’m always so excited and pleased when that happens; especially with local artists.
During his set, I sat there and thought, “Man, Winnipeg is FULL of talent…we’re so lucky…”. If you’re an artist and through your art, you can instill that grateful attitude in your listeners, you’re doing it right. I had goose bumps during his first tune (which never happens so early) and sporadically during his set.
He was great with the audience, very personable, great with the guitar, and his voice was unique. My Husband actually took out his camera to record JD playing the harmonica and he almost never does that.
Most impressive though, was that the first balcony was silent. He must have been intriguing because the crowd was older and I rarely hear a silent older crowd during an opener. I loved it; I’d see him again.
Howard came out again and talked about The Burt being a world class venue, at which point my Mom pointed to the rip in my chair. I laughed. Well…they’re working on it. And thank goodness, because it needed the work. Great job so far.
He also talked about Burton and encouraged us to give him a standing ovation when he came out. I’m not sure we needed the encouragement, the audience was ready.
The band came out and started playing “No Sugar Tonight” and then Burton came out and sure enough everyone jumped to their feet. After the song, he showed us all his Deverons shirt and expressed his love for the new sign outside the building. He said they’d be playing mostly radio songs and that most of them were written in Winnipeg.
I’m going to stop for a second…
Burton introduced all his songs. He talked…A LOT. In between thoughts, he’d play the same chord on the keyboard (which was irritating), but my point is, I have nine pages of notes. If I type them all out, you’ll be reading for two hours. Nobody has time for that, so I’m going to type out what I felt were the most important moments and if you were there and I miss your favourite Burton story, I’m sorry. This review would be a monster if I included everything.
Back to the review…
He mentioned the home he used to live in on Landsdowne as being the hub for many of his hits. One of those hits, “Hand Me Down World” was written with bandmate, Kurt Winter, who Burton dedicated the song to.
After that tune, I became a little sad. I went to this show with my Husband and my Mom, but its my Dad (1942 – 2016) who would have loved this show. He certainly would have gotten more out of it than I did, because the memories and moments that Burton was referring to, my Dad experienced too. I wasn’t even born during The Guess Who’s heyday, I have no memories of this stuff. But my Dad…he would have really appreciated this show.
After “Clap For The Wolfman”, which was written for American disc jockey Wolfman Jack, Burton’s nerves subsided and he reminisced about skipping school to watch The Beatles movie, “Help!” in The Odeon Theatre, and now that theatre was named after him.
He also talked about receiving a gold record from Dick Clark for the song “Laughing”.
Then he thanked my dentist – who I’ve been seeing every six months since I was 7 years old – for fixing his tooth. I’m totally serious. I had no idea my dentist was Winnipeg’s dentist to the stars. Next time I see him, I’m going to mumble something incoherent about that.
Later in the show, everyone left Burton alone on stage and he sang a song he learned by listening to CKY and CKRC radio. It was Jerome Kern’s “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”. It was an impressive performance and not just because Burton told us it would be. He received a standing ovation for it.
The band came back on stage and Burton introduced them all. His band, by the way, was really solid, and you could tell they’d been playing together for 16 years.
Burton flashed us his Deverons shirt again, and sang “Blue Is The Night”, which is a song he first sang when he was 17 years old.
After “Runnin’ Back To Saskatoon”, Burton gave an audience member one of his poetry books. He spoke about his abusive Father and then dedicated his Mother’s favourite song, “I’m Scared” in her memory.
A long story about vocalist, Nick Sinopoli, a roulette table, a $20 bill and the lucky number 11, set up “Star Baby” and then Burton recalled a low point in his life. His long term girlfriend left him, moved to Calgary and married a lawyer. He wrote “Stand Tall” shortly after she left and received a gold record for it which, he joked, helped with the pain.
The middle of “Break It To Them Gently” was really cool, Burton and Nick traded chorus lyrics to popular songs of that generation. Then Burton played a piano medley which turned into “American Woman” and the crowd jumped up and rushed the stage to dance.
“No Time” was my favourite tune of the night. I never realized how layered and well put together that song is.
A standing ovation ended that set and after a few minutes Burton and the band came out and Burton threw his sweaty towel into the audience, which grossed me out. But then I’m not a super fan. I’m just someone who ducks and covers when sweaty towels fly through the air.
He thanked us all for buying his 8 tracks and cassettes and set up the encore song by telling us how lucky we were to live in this part of the world. He wished us well and the band broke into “Share The Land” while the audience waved their arms in the air.
And that was it.
One thing I was surprised about – and I heard audience members mention as well – is that he didn’t play “These Eyes”. Maybe he was saving it for Saturday’s show. If that’s the case, I wonder which big song they didn’t hear…
This may not be my generation’s music, but this is music that never seems to age. “American Woman” is one of my favourite songs (not the Lenny Kravitz version) and I never switch radio channels when it’s on.
Even I could tell how special this performance was; for the people in the audience, as well as the music lovers of Winnipeg. I’m sure in the distant future, just before Howard Mandshein introduces me as “the quintessential concert reviewer”, I’ll talk about my concert memories and I’ll recall I saw Burton Cummings play at the Burton Cummings Theatre.
I’ll count that as one of my lucky moments.
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMs