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Old 06-01-2005, 08:41 AM   #1
charlene
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Massey 2005 – part 2 ( Thurs.May 19 and Frid.May 20,2005)



The weather in Toronto changed from rainy, cold and dismal just in time for the Massey 2005 convention. It was blue skies, slightly breezy and warm for the duration.


I think it was May 17 when the announcement was made that the Canadian Music Hall of Fame would be built on Yonge Street at Dundas, just kitty corner to the Eaton Centre. For regular visitors to Toronto for the last 6 years they well remember the construction cladding on that corner. Hopefully the hall will be finished in two years. While we have had a Music Hall of Fame for many years there has never been an actual building. Very “ethereal” as Gord says.

When I spoke with Gord after the second night’s show I asked him what he planned to put in the hall. He looked off in the distance and thought a moment. He then said “well I better start thinking about that now that it’s being built.” However he offered up no specific items he would allow to be on display. I also asked him about the Lightfoot museum that people talk about for Orillia. He said he didn’t have a lot of time and I said to “delegate” people! He told me that he doesn’t have enough delegates! So I offered up my services and items! Lol

It’s about time this country had its own Hall of Fame, regardless of musical genre and finally showcase the incredible talent we have.



Being a glutton for punishment I went with Sparky on her quest for the holy grail of vintage fabrics on Thursday morning after breakfast. After cleaning out one store we headed off in search of more prey. After a few more stops and having filled the back storage area of her RAV our shopping extravaganza was done. I feared major explanations at the border were in Jenney’s future. One can have only so many “cleaning rags!!”



Jenney headed up to her room for a bit of a rest and I wandered down Yonge Street to window shop and people watch. My goodness we have an “eclectic” assortment of people in Toronto! And I’m not just talking about the tourists! Lol



Back at the Delta folks were getting ready for dinner and to head to Massey afterwards. About 12 of us met up at the Elephant and Castle right on the corner of Gerrard and Yonge and had a fun time and good food. There are so many incredible places to eat in Toronto and so many varieties of food. With such a multi-cultural population there is something to eat for every taste-obscure flavours or the more popular fare. I know Paul and his family was eating their way around town! Driving around with Jenney that morning I noticed at one stoplight there was a Thai, Italian, Irish and burger restaurant – one on each corner! Paul was even enthusiastic about the eggs! Walking south on Yonge towards Shuter and Massey with a group of Lightfoot fans is quite the excursion. Hands flying, lots of talking and laughing, we’re on a mission! Arriving about 30-45 minutes prior to show time allows us to congregate near the stage and catch up on each other’s events of the day. Some went on sight seeing trips, others shopped, some rested up after a long trip and late night. We were all eager to see how the second concert would go after such a hugely triumphant first night and fabulous reviews in the local papers. It must have been very, very gratifying to Lightfoot, Mike, Terry, Barry and Rick and the whole EMP organization to have had the first night go so perfectly. The hall was ready, the seats were filled again and the lights went down. Again, as always there was no introduction. The band strode to their appointed spots and we were once again on our feet cheering wildly. About 30 seconds or so later Lightfoot emerged from behind the curtain with a wave and smile and took his spot at centre stage. He grinned like the canary that swallowed the cat and waved to the balconies. He let the ovation go on and we kept it up, showing him we were so grateful to have him back home. It didn’t last quite as long as the night before and wasn’t as much of a roar but most of the real die-hard fans, especially local ones were in attendance the first night.



The first song was “14K Gold” and as he then sang “Never Too Close”, “Ring Them Bells” and “Let It Ride” it seemed he was breathing quite heavily. He took a moment to gather himself and speak of his personal trauma in 2000 and how people ask if his songs relate to his personal life. He smiled and told us “I just write songs…..of some of it rubs off….He then sang “Harmony.” A couple of more tunes and he still was having trouble getting his breathing right. After 14 songs it was time for a break. “Spanish Moss” was a lead-in to “Shadows” and he was still struggling a bit. He spoke of growing up in Orillia and on Lake Couchiching and that some of us may be wondering what kind of song has “Couchiching “ in it. The song gets laughs here in Toronto with many of the local references – I guess it just seems odd to hear things like that in a Lightfoot song. A couple of more songs later Gord declared “I’m getting the engine going!” and seemed to have fallen into a better breathing pattern and was more comfortable. He sang “Restless”, “On The High Seas” and the “toe-tapper” – “Old Dan’s Records.” He and the band left the stage to a standing ovation demanding an encore. When they returned Lightfoot spoke of being afraid to sign a record contract in the U.S. way back when he first started having hits. “It’s a Canadian thing” he said. He also mentioned he should write a book but no one would read it and he’d leave out the good parts!

The encore was “C.R.T.” and the home town crowd loved it. Another standing ovation and people calling for more brought them back and Gord saying with a laugh, ”We were coming back anyway.”

One more song, “Cold On The Shoulder” and he was gone again. Despite another standing ovation there wasn’t another encore.

This second night had a different energy coming from the audience. The anticipation and breathlessness we had the first night was much more subdued. With Lightfoot experiencing the breathing problems and some lyric glitches and the audience being quieter it was quite a change from the first show.

Just prior to the second set beginning I was told that I was on the list to go backstage. This was very exciting and more than overwhelming for me. I had the whole second set to get nervous. It’s what I do. Thinking I had things under control it was now time to actually move my feet and walk towards the door that would lead me backstage. Well that’s not what happened. I then had my 2nd emotional meltdown. In a flash it hit me that I had been coming to Massey Hall to see Gordon Lightfoot for 30 years. Some concert series I attended 3 shows, I was there while days away from giving birth to my first baby, I had sat in all areas of the building. Here I was, almost 50, 30 years later and I was going backstage where my musical idol would be walking around talking to people…..quite possibly me! I am first and foremost a fan, the backstage visit is very heady stuff for me and I just started to cry, standing there while people were filing out of Massey and several friends were wondering what the hell had happened! LOL…..I was just simply overwhelmed with emotion. After several minutes which seemed like hours I gathered myself enough to realize that everyone that was going backstage was already gone and I had no idea where to go! I spotted Bernie Fiedler and asked if he’d take me! He was very sweet and took my arm to lead me downstairs to the bar area where the “backstage” event was occurring. I quickly found a few others who are old hat at being backstage and stood talking with them. Whew, at least I wasn’t on my own! Looking around I could see the band members speaking with fans and family and moving around the room. People were leaving and the room was less crowded. Lightfoot came over to where Jenney and I were and gave us each a big hug. Of course our cameras were not ready so no pics were snapped! Gord had on a black T-shirt with the word CANADA in small red letters across the chest. Over that he wore a green shirt, unbuttoned and hanging loose. He asked us if we noticed him struggling during the first half. We had a few posed pics snapped and he was off to meet some other people. We chatted with some band members and took more pics and then headed back to the Delta. I don’t remember any of the walk. Everyone was sitting around in the conference room again and catching up. Bill and Frank had arrived in town just before the concert and were meeting new folks and greeting old friends. Janice had done up another wonderful table of treats and drinks like she did the night before. She had been in Toronto early in the week and had been out shopping on Yonge St. for the before and after parties. What a woman! She even had disposable cameras and photo albums for everyone. I had printed out sticky labels/badges calling the tour “Waiting For Gord” with the dates Sept.,2002-May 2005, Massey Hall, Toronto on them. I put one on the bubble warp I had on a glass Maple Leaf I made for Gord and had put onstage the first night after intermission. He looked at it through the bubbles and placed it carefully on his little bench he has behind him. I think it must have been around 2 again when we all helped tidy up and head to our rooms….two down and two to go!



After a sound sleep of around 5 hours or so I headed down to the breakfast bar a couple of hours later for a wake-up coffee. Everyone was making plans to see the sights or go shopping. I headed down Yonge Street on my own and wasn’t too far before I heard “Charzo!” There behind me were Frank and Bill – obviously looking for love in all the wrong places! Lol. We strolled down to the Eaton Centre where the boys then headed off on a search for music stores. I told them that City Hall was open and they could get themselves a marriage license! What a cute couple! Lol! I window shopped for a while and headed back to the Delta. After checking, I found that a group of Lightheads was heading for dinner at 6 so I proceeded to my room to get ready for dinner and night 3 of the Massey 2005 experience. Time was passing much too fast.

Another great get-together for dinner and we were off to Massey again. What would tonight bring? Would he get off to a strong start like the first night? We would soon find out. It still all seemed like a dream.



Once again the hall went dark and the band took their places – then Gord jauntily walked out to “his” spot to a standing ovation. There was a lot of cheering and clapping and an audience energy very much like the first night.

Gord picked up his guitar and started the show with “Let It Ride.” The voice was not as strong and he shook his head a few times as if to say, “Damn, I gotta get this thing going!” After the 4th song he mentioned that the doctors were always asking him “How’s your emotional life Gordon? How’s your emotional life?” He was laughing and seemed quite bemused when recalling it. Someone yelled “Welcome Back!” and he explained about the roller coaster of life, the ups and downs and that “this” happened before that. I think he meant the writing of Harmony happened before the illness because he then sang Harmony. My gosh that’s a hurtin’ song.



He rolled through Christian Island, Restless, Country Singer and a few others and it was apparent that his breathing was a bit strained but not as much as the night before. He got into a groove almost right away. Every night he had mentioned “the Club” and that people were asking what this “club” was. “It’s the “health club!!” he laughed. He related his belly button story as well. He quite enjoys the fact that he had no belly button for a while and then found it was only hiding. Gord told us he loves living in Toronto and walking around and having people talk to him. We love having him here too! I remember a long time ago when Eric was still in a pram I was at the Eaton Centre with my sister and Gord and Cathy were shopping there too. Folks noticed him but no one approached him. We’re a pretty respectful lot and back then the celebrity obsession had not taken over the media and public like today. Even now most “stars” can go about their business in Toronto without being accosted…

Jenney has related how incredible it was when the audience starting whistling during “Ghosts of Cape Horn”, it was definitely a “wow” moment. The band was loving it and Gord got a great kick out of it. Hearing the whistling from several different areas of Massey come down to the stage was very, very cool. It reminded me of the first time I heard him do it in concert at Massey and where I was sitting. It’s one of the few real solid memories I have of all the concerts I attended. I took it all for granted and didn’t keep all the concerts in my head…I have very few “detailed” memories of the many shows I attended. I should have been taking notes back then!

After the break he played “Spanish Moss and ran it into “Shadows” again as a mini medley. Two fabulous songs! He messed up a bit at the beginning of “Shadows” and re-started it.

The surprise of the night was, as Jenney has said when he stopped during CRT at the point of “and many are the dead men,” leaned forward on one leg and pointed up the centre aisle and shouted “Look, there’s one now!!!” The audience went crazy, the band cracked up and Gord enjoyed it immensely, laughing and saying “I couldn’t resist!” He got a huge standing ovation and we laughed for a good long time about this very uncharacteristic outburst during a song. He calmed us all down with “Song For A Winter’s Night.” After “Old Dan’s Records” it was time for another standing ovation and calls of “encore!” had Lightfoot and the band leaving the stage to shouts of “more!” until they returned with Gord once again saying “We were coming back anyway!”

A “spot on” version of “Early Morning Rain” had Lightfoot and the band leaving the stage to another round of “more!” and “encore!”

Gord was back singing like he did 15 years earlier. What a treat! It really was something quite special to witness. And he was having a helluva good time up there!

Since Janice was having another after-party I hustled back to the Delta to let everyone into the conference room. After a bit of a problem with the key we were all safely inside enjoying munchies and drinks and talking about the show. A little while later the rest of the gang showed up after being backstage and I was told that I was supposed to be back there too! Ooops….I never assumed that being on the list meant any more than the one visit I was allotted! LOL and DUH! I was expected back the next night along with Lisa who would be coming down on Saturday afternoon. Once again we chatted for a few hours, tidied up and headed back to our rooms around 2 or so. It was such a blast to sit and talk with everyone, catching up on the last few years with people we hadn’t seen since May 2001, reminiscing about get togethers with others since May 2001 and making plans for November 2006. We were reflecting about previous concerts and how pleased and satisfied we were with the 3 nights we had just experienced at Massey.
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Old 06-01-2005, 11:36 AM   #2
Sheryl
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Wow, Char, that was just fantastic! Thanks, again. You made me feel like I was there with you!! Many hugs and kisses to you!! xxxooooo!!

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Old 06-01-2005, 11:59 PM   #3
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Thank you again, Charlene, for that wonderful review. You may be reliving the moment, but I am living it with your every word. I feel like I was there with you. What a great feeling!
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Old 06-02-2005, 01:03 PM   #4
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Char, you should be a paid journalist. Your writing is superb and even though I wasn’t there, I could imagine.
Thanks!
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Old 06-05-2005, 11:36 PM   #5
The Rez
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Char:

I tend to listen to Gord, live or recorded, w/ eyes closed. The stronger the senses.

I read your so-fine accouts the same way - eyes closed - the stronger the senses.

Don't ask me how, but it worked.

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Old 06-06-2005, 02:18 AM   #6
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Excellent as always, Char - there's still Saturday to go......
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