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Old 05-24-2011, 09:08 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,537
Default Brockville review
About 1,200 fans attended Saturday's performace by Canadian music legend Gordon Lightfoor and his four-piece band at the Brockville Memorial Centre. NICK GARDINER The Recorder and Time

Lightfoot, band exude 'subtle excellence' here
Posted 9 hours ago
The return of major music acts to the Brockville Memorial Centre arrived Saturday night in an understated and seemingly effortless fashion.

Legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot and his longtime band brought a well-practised and subtle presentation to 1,200 people in the so-called concert bowl on the arena floor and extending up into the surrounding seats.

At age 72, Lightfoot's voice remains rich and textured and his musicanship on the 12-string guitar was well-matched by an accomplished four-piece band which has shared the stage with the Orillia native for almost as long as his nearly 50-year career has endured.

The band put on a solid show that included many of Lightfoot's greatest hits such as "Ribbon of Darkness", "Sundown" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", which in succession concluded the first of two 50-minute sets.

Lightfoot wasn't overly chatty during an efficient performance of 26 songs, but he took a few moments to speak about the tribute song to the 1975 sinking of the ill-fated lake freighter that sank during a November storm on Lake Superior.

The lyrics were written based on newspaper accounts and an initial inquiry that suggested the rear hatches were improperly secured and contributed to the ship's sinking.

Accordingly, after a dive team recently reached the wreck and came to the conclusion the ship was struck by a giant, rogue wave, Lightfoot changed the lyrics to discount the theory that the hatches were not closed.

He had many suggestions on how to alter the words, but "the phrasing had to be right," Lightfoot told the audience.

"If you want to know what I said, just wait and see," he joked, before launching into the epic piece.

It was one of the highlights of the evening, and with the shape-shifting lighting mosiacs on the backdrop now turned icy blue, lent to the underlying sensation that the song remains today as relevant a memorial to the Maritime tragedy as it was when it was first penned.

Similarly, the timelessness lyrics of such well-known tunes as "Did She Mention My Name", "Carefree Highway", "Rainy Day People", "Cotton Jenny" and "Baby Step Back", as well as lesser-known numbers was equally apparent.

And, while the songs are still meaningful, Lightfoot's ability with the guitar and his velvet voice are also unassailable, even if he can't quite hit the hign notes on a couple of tunes as he noted during the show.

Meanwhile, a familiar cast of musicians -bassist Rick Haynes and drummer Barry Keane who have performed with Lightfoot since the mid-1970s, keyboard player Mike Heffernan who joined the band in 1981, and lead guitarist Carter Lancaster, who replaced the late Terry Clements this year -provided proficient support.

It was the type of show that hasn't been seen at the Memorial Centre since the heydays of Brockville's Riverfest when Roy Orbison, Johnny Rivers and other big-name artists performed at the venue leading up to the summer festival.

The performance and warm audience reception was reassuring to Peter Dunn, manager of the Brockville Arts Centre, which put on the show.

"I was very impressed. Lightfoot's voice was strong, the band was solid and tight and there was a good response from the crowd," said Dunn, who hopes to attract more acts to the Memorial Centre, where crowds beyond the 700-person capacity of the arts centre can be accommodated.

Dunn heard the concerns expressed by some people in the audience about problems with the sightlines from the seats off to the side on the arena floor and said they will be remedied for future events.

He said the seating plan was completed in consultation with city hall and the Brockville Fire Department and was designed to provide ample space for wheelchairs and people walking back and forth to their seats.

However, he believes there was room for about 10 more rows of seats in the centre section of the arena floor.

Dunn wasn't as receptive to other concerns about supposedly poor accoustics raised by other fans.

"I walked around the whole arena and I thought the sound was crystal clear," he said.

He believes the concerns were really about the volume of the concert that was determined by Lightfoot's sound engineers.

"Overall, I was happy with the sound. I've been to other shows at the Memorial Centre where the volume was higher and there was echoing and sound bouncing off the walls."

Moreover, people shouldn't expect to encounter a rock and roll atmosphere at a Gordon Lightfoot concert, said Dunn.

He said the volume was well-suited to a band that performs in an understated fashion belying the musicians' abilities.

Nonetheless, there was ample evidence of the band's quality and versatility, he said.

"It really was a musician's show. I was blown away with the subtleties of the musicianship and the performance.

"I call it subtle excellence."
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