Canadian rock legend Burton Cummings delights a sold-out crowd at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Monday as he brought his Up Close and Alone tour to the North Okanagan. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Music icon wows Vernon

Burton Cummings captivated the sold-out crowd at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Monday

Burton Cummings didn’t disappoint.

As soon as the music legend walked out on the stage, he captivated the sold-out crowd at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Monday.

And the Up Close and Alone tour was truly that as the Winnipeg-born Cummings was without a band.

“It’s just an Irish old age pensioner at a Japanese piano,” joked Cummings, who will turn 70 Dec. 31.

“I’m hoping to bring back some memories.”

And he didn’t waste any time doing that by opening with the 1981 single You Saved My Soul.

He then moved on to some hits from his Guess Who era, including Sour Suite, and then he regaled the crowd with a story of him and Randy Bachman separately writing two songs in the same key. They were eventually squashed together into No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature.

Along the way, classics from the great Canadian song book had the audience singing along and tapping their feet — from Laughing and Clap for the Wolfman to I Will Play A Rhapsody and Stand Tall.

He also paid tribute to some of the big influences in his career by taking a crack at Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife and The Platters’ Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.

But beyond the music, what was revealed was Cumming’s keen sense of humour.

And there was perhaps no better example of this than when he decided to ably impersonate Gordon Lightfoot singing Rod Stewart’s Maggie May. With the crowd howling and clapping, Cummings left the piano and began bouncing towards the front of the stage, where he took several bows.

“Pretty silly stuff,” he said.

But it wasn’t all fun and games as Cummings got serious when he played I’m Scared, a favourite of his mother’s. As a child, Cummings watched mom Rhoda beaten by his biological father.

“My mom had the guts to grab me and get out of there,” he said, adding that he felt comfortable telling the personal story.

“This is a beautiful room to sit and sing in and you’re a pretty good crowd.”

Cummings wrapped up the performance with Break It To Them Gently, his one song that has been played on Canadian radio more than any other.

“It pinched a nerve of so many people,” he said.

But that could be said about the entire evening as Cummings rekindled memories, not only of music but of days gone by. The word icon is often thrown around but Vernon truly learned what an icon is Monday night.

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