Devin Cuddy -- whose Devin Cuddy Band released its second album last year -- has seen many memorable shows, but the Canadian singer-songwriter says none rivals Bruce Springsteen in Toronto on the Wrecking Ball tour in August 2012.
“It was just an incredible show all around,” Cuddy says about the show at the Rogers Centre, which many Canadians still call by its former name, the SkyDome. “The band was great, large and rocking. They played for three-plus hours—all of Bruce’s best hits—and just kept going, even when the house lights came up.
“Bruce was running through the crowd and giving it his all the whole time. It was very inspiring to see someone committed to sending people home happy every night.”
It was another rock superstar, though, who delivered a stirring performance that Cuddy says influenced him most as a musician: Paul McCartney at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in August 2010,
“Again, it was about seeing a great performer putting on a great show,” says Cuddy. “There’s a lot to entertainment — sometimes it’s more then just having good songs. In this case, we got a great show with incredible songs. From the pyrotechnics in 'Helter Skelter' to the bagpipe band doing 'Mull of Kintyre,' it was great all around.”
Cuddy is starting to make a name for himself in the Canadian music scene, following in the footsteps of his dad, Jim Cuddy, a very familiar name among Canadians. Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, who produced the Devin Cuddy Band’s second and most recent album Kitchen Knife, are the McCartney-Lennon-like leaders of Blue Rodeo, a band that has been writing and recording brilliant songs largely under most Americans’ radar for decades.
Cuddy, who was born the same week Blue Rodeo began recording its stellar 1987 debut album, Outskirts, also recalls the best folk concert he ever attended. It featured Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at The Phoenix in Toronto in July 2011.
“I was so impressed by how perfect a duo they were. It seemed like they were one sound, so perfectly synced and blended. It really blew my mind. The Phoenix is generally a rock club with a general-admission capacity of about 1,000 people, and they made it feel like an intimate folk show. I had never seen anything like it.”
The National Post, a Canadian newspaper, said in its review of the show that Welch was “entrancing.” The “packed house” at the sold-out show, the newspaper said, “was completely silent during almost every song, hardly breathing until the end, when the applause and cheers could easily have been mistaken for the encore call usually reserved for the end of the night.”
Welch’s music, the National Post said, “has the folky, bluegrass-tinged tone of hot nights spent sitting on a back porch, looking out at dark skies and hoping for a cool breeze. Her music transports you back to a time you probably never knew but can somehow feel when her voice hits just the right note.”
Though the performance of Welch and Rawlings was mesmerizing, Cuddy was even more influenced by another folk concert: Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt at Toronto’s Massey Hall in February 2009.
“It was just the two of them and two chairs in the most beautiful venue in Canada, swapping stories and songs, making jokes and talking in depth about where those songs came from,” Cuddy recalls. “It struck me most as a songwriter, ‘cause I had known these guys with their hot-shit bands and such, and here they were—stripped down—and the songs were still great. It was a true test to them as songwriters.”
photo by Jen Squires