Photographs by Lee-Ann Richer.
Imagine being able to do something you love, at the age of 75, and bring so much happiness into so many hearts, all in one night! Well Canadian Icon singer/song writer Gordon Lightfoot will get that chance 85 times with his current 2014 tour schedule!
Over the course of Lightfoot’s career he has had greats like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr, Jerry Lee Lewis and Barbara Streisand (to mention a few) record his tunes. The international legend has been referred to as Canada’s greatest folk-rock songwriter and has shaped the sound of music of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
What a trip down memory lane! The first of two sets started off with the four band members entering the modest stage followed by the man everyone was there to see. He opened with “Sweet Guinevere”.
There was not a lot of talking between songs but if you wanted to take advantage of the humour and the stories you had to really listen. Lightfoot joked about all the bad songs he wrote. He said those songs happened in days before recording at Hamilton’s own Grant Avenue Studios.
He also told a story that while recording, Stompin’ Tom Connors poked his head into their studio and said, “That song sounds like a hit” after listening to only a few lines. Lightfoot said, “This was the song he heard”, and he started singing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.
The audience was singing along and shouting out requests like they were at a friendly and intimate (but large!) coffee house. It would have been to your advantage if you were a true fan and knew all the lyrics as he was a bit hard to hear and understand. No one cared as many were singing out the lyrics!
There was a brief intermission so the audience could stretch their legs and Lightfoot traded his blue jacket for a flashy red one. All decked out with the snazzy white shoes, he returned to the stage with his band for another set. Everyone enjoyed ”Carefree Highway”, “If you Could Read My Mind” and “Sundown” but loved “Now and Then”, “All the Lovely Ladies”, Fine as Fine”, “A Painter Passing Through” and Wild Strawberries”. He told a joke referring to “I’d Rather Press On” just before the song, but it seemed the audience missed it or didn’t hear him.
Lightfoot says he changes his song list from night to night and from city to city. It keeps the band fresh! It also allows more “deep cuts” to be interchanged with the hits.
Other songs on the set list were, “Don Quixote”, “Baby Step Back”, “Drifters”, “Beautiful” and “Cotton Jenny”. The evening finished with Lightfoot returning to the stage for a single song encore. He said” I’ll surprise the heck out of you with this one” and started “Rain Day People” from his eleventh album, “Cold on the Shoulder” released in 1975.
On a final note I noticed that Mr. Lightfoot’s voice has matured and softened in his golden years. His songs are so instilled in us that our memory adds in the tone and power that was part of his more youthful voice. This is not a negative observation; things change in our lives as we age. I was pleasantly surprised that the melodies in his voice are still there.
While watching this concert I was thinking I hope I have half the stamina at his age. I walked away with some great memories and a feeling of happiness! I am proud Gordon Lightfoot is still delivering his stories, in song, to us.
Good work Gordon!