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Gordon Lightfoot, 04-14-2010 Review Hamilton Spectator


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A really nice review from The Spec about the Lightfoot show at Hamilton Place last night. I am so glad we were finally able to see him perform for the first time. It was indeed a magical evening.

Lightfoot: Animated, poignant and flawless

He's older, but still a force

April 15, 2010

Graham Rockingham

Hearing a news report about your death on the radio can tend to give an artist a new lease on life.

So it was with Gordon Lightfoot last night and his performance before an audience of more than 1,800 faithful fans at Hamilton Place.

“In the words of Mark Twain,†Lightfoot told the crowd. “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.â€

Lightfoot’s mischievous pronouncement came five songs into his first set. It was not particularly original. Nonetheless, it was the perfect way to break the ice between himself and an adoring audience, many of who were still reeling from false news reports of Lightfoot’s death broadcast less than two months ago.

And it provided the perfect introduction for A Painter Passing Through, a song recorded in Hamilton’s Grant Avenue Studio about an aging artist looking back on the time when he was “in his prime.â€

The song turned Lightfoot’s lighthearted joke into a moment of poignancy. Like that painter in the song, Lightfoot has given the world many masterpieces.

And like that painter in the song, Lightfoot is aware that his greatest moments are behind him.

At 71, his voice is a pale imitation of the rich baritone his fans came to love in the ’60s and ’70s. It is frail and, at times, barely above a whisper.

Yet, Lightfoot has left us with a magnificent legacy of music. And last night, in a two-hour, 25-song performance, he was able to do justice to the best of those songs.

He started the evening off with the seafarers’ song Triangle, easing it into the tender Did She Mention My Name. He peppered the first set with old radio favourites like Sundown, Carefree Highway, Cotton Jenny and a stirring version of Beautiful. But he also remained inventive with lesser known pieces of his repertoire, especially when he segued seemlessly from Spanish Moss into Shadows.

The best, however, was saved for the second half of the show. Fans knew they were in for a treat when he opened the set with a workman-like version of his biggest hit Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Did anyone really care or notice that he had made that well publicized change to the lyrics? It was just a pleasure to hear it done so well.

Lightfoot was much more animated than the last time he was here two years ago. Not all of the jokes worked. But at least he tried.

“Who the hell would write a song about a loon in love,†he laughed in the intro of Ringneck Loon.

Still, the best was yet to come. The crowd fell silent as Lightfoot delivered up As Fine As Fine Can Be, In My Fashion , From the Forest and If You Could Read My Mind.

The standouts, however, were flawless performances of Canadian Railroad Trilogy and Song for a Winters’ Night, tunes that surely brought tears to the eyes of every true folky in the hall.

grockingham@thespec.com

905-526-3331

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