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Old 05-29-2011, 11:08 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,592
Default Massey review - Wednesday May 25, 2011

5Share Gordon Lightfoot
Massey Hall, May 25, 2011

3.5 stars
Maybe the hallowed venue should be dubbed “The House Gordon Lets Other Musicians Use.”

When Gordon Lightfoot begins the final night of his current four-night stand at Toronto’s Massey Hall this week it will reportedly mark (according to his official website at least) the 150th time he’s graced its stage since 1974.

Perhaps it was that familiarity which resulted in Wednesday night’s audience filling perhaps half of the hall. But regardless, Lightfoot’s warm, relaxing folksy signatures over nearly two hours put a smile on nearly everyone’s face.

Granted, the voice isn’t quite what it once was as evident from the opener Did She Mention My Name. Yet at times through the 28 songs spread over two sets the 72-year-old Orillia native showed he still has that spark on songs like the lengthy The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald and the equally long but more musically adventurous Canadian Railroad Trilogy which came near the conclusion.

With a seasoned four-piece band behind him, Lightfoot was quite methodical in his approach, preferring to give the thumbs up or a quick nod of thanks rather than a lot of between song chit chat.

When he did make conversation, his comedic timing was almost perfect as was the case prior to Waiting For You. While talking about the song concerning an old lost love, a lone piece of confetti fell from the rafters and landed at his feet, resulting in a rather huge laugh from the crowd.

Generally though, Lightfoot provided the audience – which included singer-songwriters Andy Kim and Ron Sexsmith – a sweet sampling of his rich repertoire such as the mid-tempo Carefree Highway and the “little toe-tapper” Hangdog Hotel Room. Other strong offerings included the romantic Beautiful, the chugging Ribbon Of Darkness which brought to mind Johnny Cash and the waltzing country style of Sweet Guinevere.

While not the most charismatic figure on stage, Lightfoot’s graceful manner and knack for creating a three-minute story is his greatest selling point. And although a brief false start took place at one point, the chemistry he and guitarist Carter Lancaster demonstrated was quite good. Lancaster is less than three months into the role following the passing of Lightfoot’s longtime guitarist Terry Clements who passed away in February.

If there was one odd moment, it might have been Couchiching, a song from his last studio album Harmony. The tune came across more like an Orillia tourist advertisement compared to nuggets like If Children Had Wings, the jazzy Baby Step Back, Sundown and If You Could Read My Mind which earned the evening’s biggest ovation.

Probably the most poignant moments came during A Painter Passing Through and the finale In My Fashion, both songs reflecting on a life lived and how they will be remembered.

In Lightfoot’s case, it’ll most likely be as an iconic singer-songwriter.


Did She Mention My Name

Carefree Highway

Sea Of Tranquility

Never Too Close

A Painter Passing Through

Let It Ride

Christian Island


If Children Had Wings


Hangdog Hotel Room

Ribbon Of Darkness


The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Sweet Guinevere

Cotton Jenny

Ringneck Loon

Home From The Forest

Waiting For You

Make Way For The Lady

Fine As Fine Can Be


If You Could Read My Mind


Baby Step Back

Canadian Railroad Trilogy


Rainy Day People

In My Fashion

(the debris that floated down was old clumps of dust - some pieces as big as 1/5 x 3 inches in size-'light as a feather' as several floated down over the course of the show each night.)
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