There are few performers in the superstar caliber of Burton Cummings. He’s a real Canadian rock icon, having scored hits with The Guess Who in the 60s and 70s, as well as platinum solo albums throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. The legendary singer hit the stage at The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor on Friday night for his first concert of 2018 and his fourth consecutive sellout in the city.
Cummings showed that age has nothing to do with having a voice of gold. While most rockers seem to have lost their magic vocal chords after the age of 50 (see Paul Stanley or David Coverdale), Cummings almost seems to be better with age. On December 31, he turned 70, with the Windsor show his first at that age. There’s a bit of smokiness to the sound that seem to make the songs even better than the original recordings.
By the time he started to sing the second part of opening number No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature, the audience was totally captured and under his spell. He could have sung the phone book at that point, but he maintained that there would be nothing but hits in the show.
“We’re not here for anything but good reasons,” he told the crowd. “There’s no politics, no creepy conversations. We’re here tonight to do songs that you’ve probably heard on the radio for years and years. I know that familiar songs ignite memories and that’s what they do for me.”
Backed by long-time band The Carpet Frogs, Cummings plowed through the songs and told stories about his memories along the way. He’s embraced his audience in the most personal of ways, which even carries through on his Facebook page, which contains endless recollections of music, tours and personal moments.
The Carpet Frogs gave the songs a gorgeous and very full sound. Definitely under-rated in nearly every way, they may have even performed them better than the original recordings. Bassist Jeff Jones gave the songs a very deep tone that vibrated not only the walls, but squished at the heart. It blended perfectly with Cummings stellar keyboard work.
Windsor got American Woman, Running Back To Saskatoon (which featured some great harmonica from Cummings), Break It To Them Gently, My Own Way To Rock, No Time, Hand Me Down World, Your Back Yard and tons of other songs throughout the two-hour show. One of the fun moments came with the classic Guess Who song Clap For The Wolfman, in a performance that seemed to be influenced greatly by his love for Motown, which is only a river crossing away.
“This is very emotional and overwhelming for me,” Cummings revealed. “It’s just remarkable to look out the window and see all the lights of Detroit and to realize all the incredible music that came from right here.”
It’s that emotional connection that makes a Burton Cummings show special. He is never one to underestimate how important the audience is for him and he proved it on Friday when he took extra steps to ensure the audience was free to use cell phones to take pictures and film the show as they please, a procedure often shunned at most concerts.
Windsor also had a special moment when the rocker decided to have some fun with The Frogs and do a cover of the 1965 hit Hang On Sloppy, originally made famous by The McCoys.
There wasn’t a sour puss in The Colosseum all night. With absolutely nothing to complain about, Windsor had the pleasure of two hours of stories and hits from an honest-to-goodness Canadian rock legend. Thank you, Burton, we look forward to the next four sold-out shows.
Photos by Dan Savoie