Sunday, 23 August 2015

Buffy Sainte-Marie at Brooklyn Bowl

Buffy was in London a week or so ago to promote 'Power In The Blood', her latest album. She was featured in a great interview on 'Woman's Hour' on BBC Radio 4 (in which she said she didn't like her singing on her first few albums) and played live at the Brooklyn Bowl, one of the newer venues at the O2 in Greenwich. It's an odd venue to choose, part bar, part gig venue and part bowling alley but it had a nice feel to it and great lights for Buffy to take advantage of. It's all standing of course, apart from a few bar seats in the bar area, but that's worth it for Buffy. It also had big video screens around the hall so I'm hoping some video of the show from the venue appears at some point.

On strode Buffy in her black and red tassled jacket, feather ear-rings and choker with black jeans and grabbed her guitar. Michele Bruyere is still drumming for Buffy (and has been for 7 years or so and plays on some of the tracks on the new record) along with Mark Olexon on bass and Anthony King on guitar, both of seemed to be having great fun. Buffy alternated guitar with keyboards as usual.

As with her last gig in London (at The Tabernacle), the majority of the songs Buffy sang were from the last two albums with some of the old favourites thrown in for good measure. Even some of the older songs were played as new versions as performed on the new records. I like the way that Buffy's not afraid to play with her own back catalogue and re-write and re-interpret  some of the songs.

We were given:

It's My Way
Piney Wood Hills
Power In The Blood
We Are Circling
Not The Lovin' Kind
Love Charms
Farm In The Middle Of Nowhere
Carry It On
No No Keshagesh
Cho Cho Fire
Little Wheel Spin And Spin
Blue Sunday
Darling Don't Cry
Up Where We Belong
Until It's Time For You To Go
Universal Soldier
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
Starwalker (encore)

Buffy was in her element and clearly having fun up on that stage with the lights flashing, excellent sound mix and a load of adoring fans (including some obviously recruited from her shows with Morrissey earlier this year). Her band also seemed to be having a great time up there, with Anthony helping out on guitar-tech duties and Michele wearing an 'Elder Brothers' teeshirt (a print of one of Buffy's digital paintings).

I loved all the songs we were graced with but particular favourites on the night were 'Darling Don't Cry' which always takes me back to the first time I saw Buffy in Belleville, Ontario, ten years ago and the audience erupting into pow wow singing (amazing experience). 'Power In The Blood' was stunning and 'We Are Circling' was lovely and very hypnotic. 'Generation' is always a joy to hear ("I just want to dance with the Rosebud Sioux this summer") and 'Cho Cho Fire' gets the feet moving (I'm running for the drum with that song). 'Until It's Time For You To Go' is always lovely to hear and it wouldn't be a Buffy gig without 'Universal Soldier'. It would've been nice to hear 'Sing Our Own Song' from the last record but maybe next time.

The encore was 'Starwalker' and the light show went psychedlic as a backdrop for that powerful song for all our generations and all the generations yet to come. I first heard that song in 1976 on the 'Sweet America' record that I bought on import - the record sleeve (and I still have the 12" vinyl and the sleeve) notes that it's dedicated to the American Indian Movement but these days Buffy dedicates it to everyone. "Starwalker, he's a friend of mine...".

And then Michele came out from behind his drumkit and started his pow wow dancing across the stage as the band bowed to the applause and slowly left the stage. That's such a great way to end, and leaves the audience wanting more - we always want more Buffy so please come back and see us soon.

I haven't seen any of the Brooklyn Bowls video yet but I found this clip of Buffy singing 'Power In The Blood' and this should give you an idea of what it was like on the night. With thanks to KrisLW for uploading the video, enjoy!

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