Monday, November 17, 2014

Burton Cummings - Live At The Arcada

I honestly don't think Burton Cummings is capable of putting on a bad show.   

I've seen him (both with The Guess Who and as a solo act) at least fifteen times now ... including THREE times in the past year alone (twice with his full band and once as a solo act performing his "up close and alone" set) ... and he NEVER fails to reel in the audience and get them up on their feet as he performs hit after hit after countless hit to pure perfection.   

Cummings appears to be in excellent health ... and he looks great, just like he did back in the day.  But it's that voice ... remarkably unchanged since the glory days of The Guess Who ... that defines him.  Without question, it is one of the most distinctive voices in the history of rock and roll ... NOBODY sounds like Burton Cummings.  And while Burton no longer holds the rights to the use of the Guess Who name ... (that belongs to a couple of "sidemen imposters" who tied it up legally several years ago) ... there is absolutely NO denying the fact that the SOUND of The Guess Who belongs to this man.  Burton wrote ... and sang ... every hit the group ever had ... and he treated us to a whole bunch of 'em Friday Night at The Arcada Theatre.  (The show came almost EXACTLY one year after his first appearance there ... Burton LOVES this theater ... and the St. Charles crowed loved HIM, too, awarding standing ovation after standing ovation throughout the night, each and every one of them well deserved.)  

Cummings opened his show with the "No Sugar Tonight" / "New Mother Nature" medley, which brought the entire crowd to its feet.  He was flabbergasted ... "C'mon, that's only the first song!!!" he said, beaming at the crowd's reaction.

It carried on like that all night long as he performed Guess Who and solo favorites like "Albert Flasher" (recently covered in Forgotten Hits as Burton himself explained the seemingly nonsensical lyrics"), "Clap For The Wolfman", both sides of The Guess Who's second million selling hit, "Laughing" and "Undun" (once Burton finally got his flute tuned! lol), "Hand Me Down World", "Star Baby" (a HUGE hit here in Chicago that really got the crowd going ... that song only got to #30 nationally but was a #3 smash here in Chi-Town), "Stand Tall", "I'm Scared", "Runnin' Back To Saskatoon" and wrapping it all up with the one-two power punch of two of The Guess Who's biggest rockers, "American Woman" and "No Time".  (How The Guess Who have never so much as even made the nomination ballot for The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame may just be the greatest travesty in the history of rock and roll ... what the hell is wrong with these people?!?!  Were you listening to the radio in the late '60's and early '70's while The Guess Who were racking up their sixteen Top 40 hits?!?!)   

He was even able to sneak in a couple of solo offerings to give us a taste of what his "up close and alone" shows are like.  The rest of the band left the stage and Burton sat at the piano and performed "Mack The Knife" by Bobby Darin, one of his all-time heroes and the absolutely hauntingly beautiful "Dream Of A Child", a song that I will proudly admit brings tears to my eyes each and every time I hear it. 

To say Cumming slayed his audience Friday Night would be an understatement.  This guy ALWAYS delivers the goods and the audience responded in kind.  Another GREAT show for his many Chicagoland fans.  (Honestly I think this guy could take up residency here for a week and STILL play to a sold out house each and every night ... a concert experience NOT to be missed!)  kk