Music: Live - God plays a mean guitar

BRUCE COCKBURN HQ DUBLIN

BRUCE COCKBURN: singer/ songwriter; Canadian; amazing guitarist; the man who single-handedly bussed in the languages of physics and cosmology and applied them with rare articulacy to the rough-hewn poesy of rock'n'roll, illustrating the achievements of God and garnering thus a word-of-mouth audience for life from the intellectuals of the nascent Charismatic movement.

As that movement mushroomed, Cockburn stepped sideways, going around the troublespots of the world, raging against corruption, famine, deforestation, Third-World debt, the problems of Native Americans and people with rocket- launchers, while wrestling with the certainties of his early work. The songs and albums that documented those adventures swung between the occasional razor-sharp polemic of "Call It Democracy" and po-faced rants that signalled the danger of Cockburn's career imploding under the weight of portentousness.

With that as background, Cockburn's more recent work on Rykodisc - the quite exceptional The Charity Of Night in 1996 and now Breakfast In New Orleans, Dinner In Timbuktu (out next month) - has found the artist accepting that he cannot do or change everything. A more poised, observational strain has entered his work, where personal politics, with that old sense of wonder resurrected, and a stoic view on the ills of the world can all share a table. And, as evidenced tonight at a venue purpose- built for the "listening audience", he is not without a sense of fun, notably when seemingly 40 people all decide to visit the gents, stage left, at the same time. You had to be there.

Recent songs have tended to feature spoken passages, where the novelistic beauty and mystery of his words and their cyclical, sometimes fragile, sometimes pile-driving, instrumental settings, create a richly compelling mindscape. "Sometimes," offers Bruce, "things don't easily reduce to rhyming couplets." Showcasing the new album, the achingly poignant "Isn't That What Friends Are For?" and the crunching riff and joyous spirit of "When You Give It Away" were two cases in point. So when a piece of simple verse/chorus genius such as "Pacing The Cage", from the last album, gets an airing, it is all the more stunning - words and music that are crying out for coverage by an artist capable of chart success.

These things, of course, never happen and so it will always be a great adventure for the perennial trickles of individuals to "discover" the well-kept secret of Bruce Cockburn.

One senses that at 54, he is comfortable with the prospects of perpetually revered semi-obscurity. The state of his faith has been a topic of periodic conversation in recent times. Tonight, he had a surprise for the cognoscenti: "I haven't played this for 20 years," he says. "It didn't seem pertinent. It seems pertinent now. Read into that what you will." The song that followed, "Dialogue With The Devil" - almost old enough now to qualify as a Dead Sea Scroll - was a revelation. Wherever he's at, Cockburn still has something very powerful to say, and is doing so with the maturity of a truly great artist, and material that is consistently his best in years.

Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
artSistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence