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Published: 2013/12/27
by Mark Allen

Bruce Cockburn, Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, Pittsburgh, PA- 12/7

Photo by Traci Ellis

Bruce Cockburn, fresh off a European road swing, settled into Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library Lecture Hall to finalize his touring for 2013. A beautiful snowfall had made traveling to the cozy venue a small challenge, but for those who succeeded in venturing to the sold out show, it proved to be an enchanting evening.

The sound was clean, dialed in from the onset as Bruce picked up his gorgeous green-topped Manzer custom acoustic and opened with “Grim Travelers” from the 1980 release Humans. “Iris of the World” and “When You Give It Away” followed, and three songs into the set, the Canadian bard had the audience rapt with his intricate finger picking and evocative poetry in song.

The instrumental excursion “Bohemian Three Step” followed, with its Eastern overtones infused with Cockburn’s quirky folk-pop styling. The slow, dirge-like “Strange Waters” that ensued was accented with a perfect crescendo and intricate solos, featuring Cockburn’s defined and flawless articulation on the fret board. “Last Night of the World” and “After the Rain” were delivered with the same artful precision.

The dark “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” was played tight to the vest, true to its original arrangement, and was followed by “The End of All Rivers,” leveraging delay loops layered with masterful restraint. “Wondering Where the Lions Are” frolicked before the somber delivery of the epic “Stolen Land,” which also utilized delay for an appropriately haunting musical tapestry to augment the chilling lyrics. A spirited rendition of “They Call It Democracy” maintained the activist spirit.

A slow and sultry delivery of “God Bless the Children” ensued, which gave way to “Put It In Your Heart.” Bruce then announced his voice was about done for, and he ended the set playing dulcimer on a delectable “Arrows of Light.”

Not quite finished, Cockburn emerged for encores of “All the Diamonds” and “Celestial Horses” before finally calling it a night, and a year.

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