Thursday, November 14, 1996
Lighfoot makes himself at home at Massey Hall
By ERROL NAZARETH
A Gordon Lighfoot concert is such a laidback, cozy
affair that you almost expect someone to come around with homemade
cookies and hot chocolate.
Which would've been lovely, given the weather that greeted the first
show of Lightfoot's four-night stand at Massey Hall. Incidentally, this
year marked the 26th anniversary of the acclaimed troubadour playing his
But back to the vibe in the hall last night, which he transformed into
his living room.
Folks conversed with Lightfoot from their seats, asked him to "do
something for Haliburton," sang Happy Birthday ("Not yet, not
yet," he said), asked him if he's been to Hawaii (his Hawaiian
shirt and white sneakers elicited that question) and scribbled their
requests on pieces of paper and left them on the stage.
Lightfoot chatted with them, explained the origins of his songs (my
favorite was, "This one's about exuberant youth seen through the
eyes of a garden toad"), actually said, "I'm gettin' kinda
tired" toward the end of the gig, and oozed sincerity --
"Winter's arrived, it's hard getting around. Thanks for coming
You're welcome, Gordy.
It's not often, in this age of musical bombast, that one can luxuriate
in simple songs about love, life and regular folk, delivered in a sweet,
acoustic live setting.
Especially when those songs are the poignant Sit Down Young Stranger
(not only has he not performed this song in 16 years, but it carried
emotional weight coming on the heels of Remembrance Day), and classics
like Sundown, Carefree Highway, Canadian Railroad Trilogy and If You
Could Read My Mind.
Accompanied by a four-member band, who, thankfully, didn't showboat like
the cats backing up Harry Connick Jr. last week, Lightfoot packed as
many songs as he could from his 18 albums into his two-hour performance.
He also tested five new ones on us -- among them On Yonge Street,
Boathouse and Painter Passing Through -- which may appear on his next
album, tentatively scheduled for a spring '97 release.
And, of course, he did Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald!
Not only has this song achieved the status of, say, Led Zepellin's
Stairway To Heaven, but we learned it's led to its creator being asked
questions such as, "Do you know if it (the Fitzgerald) could go
through the Welland Canal locks?"
Incidentally, among the crowd at last night's gig was a group of 60 fans
from various countries who'd hooked up with each other on the
alt.music.lightfoot discussion group on the Internet.
Lightfoot's at Massey Hall through Saturday. He'll make you laugh, tap
your feet and make you glad you came in from the cold.
Good tickets remain for Thursday's and Friday's shows. Saturday's is
almost sold out. Tix are $23.50 to $32.50.
RATING: FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS