The lovely Missus and I went back to Artpark last night and ran into a Canadian Invasion of Lewiston, NY. On the bill were Buffy St. Marie, April Wine, and Burton Cummings. A bit of a strange grouping, right? The venue was much more crowded than I expected it to be. I would estimate a crowd in the 10,000 range, probably twice as large as the crowd for YES a few weeks earlier.
I confess that I know very little about Buffy. She played one song I knew, Universal Soldier, which I believe was her biggest hit. She sings a great back up vocal on one of my favorite Neville Brothers albums, Brother’s Keeper. And finally, my sister, who must be much, much older than me, saw her in concert in 1968. That’s all I got.
After Buffy’s thirty minute set, there was a short break and on came April Wine. This is a band that I’ve always wanted to see and I’m glad that I finally got the chance to cross them off my list. They’re one of those sneaky, under the radar, type of bands that has way more hit songs than most people realize. The lead singer, Myles Goodwyn, still has his chops and was able to hit all of the notes. They did a short set of about an hour and played Sign of the Gypsy Queen, Just Between You and Me, I Like to Rock, 21st Century Schizoid Man, and Roller, among others. There were a few songs that I would have loved to hear as well(You Could Have Been A Lady and Bad Side of the Moon), but time was short with a triple bill. The Nature of the Beast was a pretty big album in 1981 and I spent a fair amount of time listening to it back then. I’m very happy to have finally caught this band.
Another short break and then on comes the headlining band, diving right into the opening notes of No Sugar Tonight. On walks Burton Cummings, still rocking that 70’s stache after all these years. A few things were immediately apparent to me. The dude is feisty, he can play a rocking electric piano, and his voice has not diminished much at all. Feisty may not even be a strong enough word. He twice called out the band currently touring as The Guess Who and referred to them as a karaoke band. While introducing Guns, Guns, Guns, a song with an anti-hunting theme, he called out “that prick dentist from Minnesota” and said he’d like to get five minutes alone with him . The man is 69 years old and still willing to rumble!
The Guess Who had at least ten major hits, maybe more, and Cummings played almost all of them, along with his only solo hit, Stand Tall. They’re an interesting band to me because they cross over into a couple different genres in my mind. Some of their songs are FM, rock radio staples. Some of them are more at home in the AM Gold format of the 70’s. They were a pretty straightforward rock band whose influences were always readily apparent. I can hear the echos of 50’s rock n roll, with that prevalent piano in each song that echos Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard.
The set list included No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature, Laughing, These Eyes, Clap for the Wolfman, Star Baby, American Woman, No Time, and Share the Land. He also did a rocking cover of Louie, Louie, which was fun.
I’m glad that we made the effort to catch this show. I can cross two more bands off of my “haven’t seen” list, which is cool. Even cooler is that both bands still brought it. Even the Missus enjoyed it. I don’t think she checked her Pinterest once last night.