May 23rd, 2024

Cummings and company wow appreciative Enmax audience


By Lethbridge Herald on June 13, 2023.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Burton Cummings and The Carpet Frogs perform at the Enmax Centre Sunday night in front of an appreciative audience of about 1,800 people.

AL BEEBER
LETHBRIDGE HERALD

He played the songs his fans have come to know and love while throwing in a couple of surprises. And at the end after an encore with his timeless – and timely – classic “Share The Land,” Canadian music icon Burton Cummings left no one wanting for more.

Cummings and his band the Carpet Frogs staged on Sunday night at the Enmax Centre a show that 1,800 fans will always cherish and never forget.

Cummings, who over the decades has released more than 30 albums, played a diverse set which featured tunes from his Guess Who days as well as his solo career.

One of the crowd favourites was a song he said has been played more on Canadian radio than any of his other songs – “Break it to Them Gently.”

And he had the crowd mesmerized with the classic “American Woman,” which followed a lengthy and jaw-dropping introduction which showcased the musicianship of he and his veteran band who has been with him for 20 years.

 As he did on his solo appearance at the Enmax Centre, the Canadian legend chatted with the audience throughout the night, giving them a history of his music as he embarked on a journey that has kept him filling venues and on the radio for more than 50 years.

Cummings, at 75, still has the pure voice that made him a star decades ago and the energy he exhibited was more like that of a 25-year-old.

During the show he gave a shoutout to longtime pal and concert promoter Ron Sakamoto, talking about the years they’ve worked together and some of the late nights they’ve shared. The two have known each other for 58 years.

He opened his set talking about an appearance the Guess Who made on the Midnight Special TV concert series, paying tribute to none other than the legendary deejay Wolfman Jack with the early ‘70s hit “Clap for The Wolfman,” which in its day was a staple on AM radio.

He then told how he and former bandmate Randy Bachman, while waiting with the Guess Who to catch a ferry back to the mainland from Vancouver Island, came up with the music and lyrics for an early band hit in just over half an hour, Bachman working on an acoustic guitar while Cummings “messed” with the lyrics. 

That impromptu songwriting session turned into the classic “Laughing,” which earned the band a gold record that was personally given to them by Dick Clark on the long-running U.S. television music show American Bandstand.

He and the Carpet Frogs then paid tribute to Bob Dylan by performing a song they originally learned for the Unplugged concerts on the tour, a tune written for the movie “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” called “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.”

With the band leaving the stage, Cummings then launched into a song that he said many have told him is one of their favourites and justifiably so – a song that for him is special because it went to No. 1 in Winnipeg which prompted his mom to grab a dozen copies of a “Hit Parade” chart. That song was the incomparable “Sour Suite.”

He lightened up the mood by doing a riotous impression of what he imagined his late friend and fellow Canadian icon Gordon Lightfoot might have sounded like if he had been inspired to write a tune from hearing Rod Stewart outside his Toronto home. That tune was “Maggie May” and Cummings nailed Lightfoot’s singing style to the delight of fans.

He and the band then ramped it up with some straight forward rock ’n roll with “My Own Way to Rock,” which had the audience roaring with their appreciation for his solo hit.

Making a reference to a classic Canadian advertisement for a brand of chewing gum, he introduced a song that is actually two in one – “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature.”

And as he and the Carpet Frogs returned for their encore, he talked about how well the lyrics of his last song of the evening have stood up so well over the years, offering a heartfelt commentary on how well we Canadians have it here, how much we need to appreciate this land before launching into a song that surely touched everyone’s heartstrings perhaps like no other played on this memorable evening – “Share The Land.”

Two opening acts warmed up the crowd before Cummings and both were absolutely superb.

Ryan McMahon of Vancouver Island opened with a powerful five-song acoustic set which was way too short. McMahon’s voice and songwriting skills wowed those who had the privilege of hearing him.

The second act was B.C. Indigenous artist Kyle McKearney who put on a dazzling set showcasing various styles with his band. Sakamoto Agencies has just signed McKearney and is talking to McMahon.

Sakamoto has both on the Cummings tour to give the emerging artists some much-deserved exposure.

The performances had fans talking in the seats about these dynamic young Canadians who clearly have bright futures ahead of them.

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biff

this is an excellent take on what was a beautiful evening. i also appreciated the write up you provided ahead of the show. indeed, the first two acts of the evening were brilliant, each showcasing virtuosity and magnificent voice. Cummings is a canadian legend with a song list so deep that he easily fills a full length show himself. his bad is not only skilled, but they bring it, as if the performance is their first, or last.
the odd thing is that the event drew just 1800 fans – perhaps ticket prices are now just so out of hand. very lucky i could scrounge up the bucks for us to attend, and some family in calgary will have their night to take in the great show in a few days.
thanks for an excellent take on a wonderful event, al!