Monday, March 13, 2000
Lightfoot carries on tradition
By DONNIE MOORHOUSE
taken from Masslive
NORTHAMPTON — Carrying the torch for '70s-styled folk, singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot delivered two performances at the Calvin Theatre Friday night.
Perhaps best described as Canada's answer to Bob Dylan (no need to discount at the current rate), Lightfoot performed for nearly — 1,000 fans.
The melodies were simple and the rhymes were purposeful, buoyed by Lightfoot's unique phrasing and recognizable cadence. It is that cadence that is his currency and has enabled him to maintain a core following for more than 30 years.
Lightfoot is big enough to have some very big songs and those who thought he cashed in all his chips by playing such songs as "Sundown" and "Carefree Highway" during the first of his two-set performance, were forgetting such hits as "Rainy Day People" and "If You Could Read My Mind," which were highlights after the 15-minute intermission.
"Sundown" was wholly satisfying as the crowd clapped along, keeping time with Lightfoot's four-piece band. Like rambunctious students, the audience continued to shout requests and Lightfoot responded like the favorite professor "admonishing" them with a wink and a nod.
Lightfoot went with the education reference on several occasions, pointing out such songs as "Ghosts," which he said was used in an educational film, and hinting he would be involved in an upcoming PBS special.
"Well, let's go to the big song," he shrugged, referring to the epic "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." The true story of the shipwreck was brought to life by Lightfoot's historical demeanor and the band's haunting accompaniment.
On occasion, Lightfoot sounded withered, but nonetheless charmed, on such songs as "Pony Man," and his understated love song, "Waiting For You." He continued to chuckle at various shouted requests, some that went way back in the veteran performer's catalog.
The arrangements were standard folk with hints of bluegrass and an occasional turn on a blues theme. It was Lightfoot's graceful delivery that turned the performances into more than standard four-chord fare.
Lightfoot closed the performance with "If You Could Read My Mind" and "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," and walked off the stage to a standing ovation. He returned for a one-song encore and hurled a bouquet of flowers into the crowd.