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Old 06-30-2014, 10:45 AM   #7
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,604
Default Re: SUNDOWN @ 40 - June 29-Harbourfront-Toronto

SUNDOWN @ 40 – Harbourfront- TORONTO-June 29, 2014
40 years ago the album SUNDOWN was #1 on the BILLBOARD charts, not only that but the SINGLE was also #1 !! – This momentous event was relayed to Gordon while he was on tour and just about to perform in Dublin, Ireland.

Many musicians from Toronto and surrounding areas like Hamilton came together for a celebration of this iconic Lightfoot album. Tom Wilson (whom I saw open for Burton Cummings last year) arranged a stellar group of these folks. Most of them were known to me from seeing them at Hugh’s Room Lightfoot celebrations that are held every January. We were in for quite the evening.

My daughter who enjoys coming with me to see Gordon and I headed out mid afternoon and took the GO train as usual, into Toronto. We walked down to the waterfront and made our way to the WestJet open air theatre to see what was happening. The beautiful 3 masted sailboat, Kajama was loading new passengers for a tour of the harbour and Toronto Islands, the ferries were taking people to the islands and all manner of floating vessels were enjoying a beautiful summer day. Bi-planes, helicopters and passengers props were taking off and landing at the Billy Bishop Island airport. The too many to count condo towers were sparkling in the sunshine and the whole area was busy with Torontonians and tourists alike. The JAYS were at the Skydome playing Chicago, the last World PRIDE event was taking place with huge crowds enjoying the parade, street festivals in many neighbourhoods were going on, there was a JAZZ festival as well so the city was vibrating with energy.

The venue has a seating capacity under a roof for 1300 people and a huge stage that affords the performers a view of the lake and islands. Soundcheck was just wrapping up and we caught a bit of Ron Sexsmith whom I adore. He in turn adores Gordon and made a special trip back home to TO leaving LA where he is recording his new album. It was about 3 hours until showtime and weather reports were not good for later in the early evening.
We passed the time walking around and checking out the other smaller stages dotted throughout the area, the vendors in their stalls selling hand crafted jewellery and clothing, others with food and drinks. Watching the boats on the lake and planes overhead while being able to just turn around and see the magnificent skyline of Toronto and CN Tower is always fascinating. The venue was filling up and we had decided on a spot in the second row, not quite dead centre on long rubber coated metal benches with backs. A stage manager came down and put up some RESERVED notices on a few spots beside me and in the row behind us. Interesting…who could possibly be sitting there? Lol

While walking around I had the luck to run into and get a lovely hug from one of ‘my boys’, Jory Nash who is a co-founder of the Hugh’s Room Lightfoot celebration shows! He and Aengus Finnan, the other co-producer have introduced me to so many incredible artists in the last 11+ years who are all Lightfoot fans. He filled me in a bit on how the evening would play out so I was even more excited to get the concert going!
The sky was filling with some very ominous clouds and the wind was picking up as you looked west towards Hamilton and over the lake…we were most certainly in for a bit of a weather event…when it would hit was the only unknown.

Around 8:10 pm I noticed Gordon with the woman who had put the RESERVED notices on the bench and they were heading towards where I was sitting. She was explaining that there were seats for any guests he might have. He was looking around and it was clear that a lot of people had no idea for a few moments that this small, slight man was Gordon Lightfoot! It seemed he had come on his own as there wasn’t anyone I recognized anywhere near him! A few of us started clapping which then had everyone notice him and give him a standing ovation, he acknowledged everyone with a few waves and a gracious bow and turned to come towards me ..He was about 10 feet from me when he noticed me, he then smiled, gave me a ‘thumbs up’ and headed over! Everyone was still applauding and cheering and he kept walking direct to me, reached out his arms and embraced me in a big hug! Oh my goodness!! While the applause was still going on he said in my ear that he was ‘going back’…I said, ‘going back? Where are you going?’ He said ‘I’m going back to tune my guitar but I’ll be back.’ This was in just a few seconds but we were still hugging and over my shoulder he spotted Lisa and took her hand and pulled her into the We let go and he turned to face everyone, gave a little bow and headed backstage to tune his guitar! ..Oh lordy, did that just happen?

Well there wasn’t much time to revel in that moment because just a few minutes later around 8:20 the rains came down and the wind was so strong that it was coming all the way into the venue, under the roof and all the way up to the front row and onto the stage where all of the musicians equipment was sitting, ready to use. The stage crew came out with massive tarps and weights to cover them while 1300+ people were putting up umbrellas and covering themselves with jackets and anything they could in an effort to stay dry. Well that was not going to happen! It was a deluge for 20 minutes with people just staying where they were and dealing with it. It reminded me of the massive storm we sat through in Orillia/Mariposa a few years ago except for that event we were in an open field between two lakes and there was a thunder and lightning storm to add to the torrential rain. The storm headed east and left behind a beautiful double rainbow out on the lake over the was gorgeous! And it too got a great round of The crew came out and got the stage ready for the show to begin about 25 minutes late. As with Lightfoot concerts there are contracts with the venues and a time frame is part of it-going past the time means fines and overtime pay for any union members who are working the gig. This is why Lightfoot doesn’t go past his standard time frame at his concerts. At both Burton Cummings shows as he came to the end of the concert he stated that he had already told the venue that he would pay the fines and overtime pay because he was certainly going to continue past the time frame and he kept singing for at least another 25-30 minutes.

Well now that we knew the show would go on and everyone was getting settled in their spots on the benches the host of the venue came out to thank us for staying throughout the rain and showing our Canadian spirit to honour our iconic Canadian Gordon Lightfoot on our CANADA DAY weekend at Harbourfront which is also celebrating 40 years. She handed over concert hosting duties to Tom Wilson. He spoke of how hearing the album SUNDOWN changed his life, becoming a musician with several bands and introducing his own son to Lightfoot music and who would be performing with his own band!

The celebration began! The whole SUNDOWN album would be performed in proper song order and a few musicians would be singing Lightfoot tunes from other albums. Tom did a tune of his own and then talked about the song he was about to do. He has covered it on one of his albums and then launched into a very high energy rendition of Oh Linda! Wow. WOW again! Things would move on quickly due to the loss of 20-25 minutes but the energy level never flagged.

I tried to capture all of at least some of each performer on video. Not many photos but I’m sure many will show up online and I will post, with credits asap. If any of you find any just add them to this thread. Videos are loading and more of the report will follow….
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