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By Stephen Pate – It was a happy night in Summerside, PEI for about 3,000 Gordon Lightfoot fans at Credit Union Place.
I had not seen Lightfoot since the early 1970′s when he packed the post Place des Arts in Montreal. In the meantime I cherished all those old Gordon Lightfoot songs from the 60′s and 70′s but almost cringed at his older, wizened appearances.
Surprisingly for someone who looks frail at 75 and admits to a wild life of excess, Lightfoot can still sing out.
My wife and I enjoyed ourselves immensely, sitting back and reminiscing to favourite Lightfoot songs.
“I can’t make out the words,” she said “except when I already know the songs.”
“Gordon Lightfoot always did mumble,” I said “only now he’s older and the mumbling is worse.”
While he did offer quips and comments between songs, unlike in the 1970s when he virtually said nothing during a performance, it was difficult to make out what he said. “I was 18 years between marriages,” Lightfoot said “when I did most of my drinking and songwriting.” If that’s not what he said, that is how it sounded to me.
Lightfoot sang the best of the long, short and sweet songs in his repertoire like Cotton Jenny, Don Quixote, Rainy Day People, Beautiful, The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald, Carefree Highway, Sundown, If You Could Read My Mind, Baby Step Back and Canadian Railroad Trilogy.
He also sang a bunch of dud songs, for whatever reasons I cannot imagine since he could sing for 5 hours without repeating a single one of his classics.
For the encore Lightfoot sang the exquisite “Song For A Winter’s Night” which gives me the chills, as a Canadian accustomed to many winter nights alone. Drummer Barry Keane added the shaker sounds of a horse sleigh. Perfect.
The band played well, certainly less in a modern mode and more in a laid back 70′s kind of groove. Bassist Rick Haynes, one of the original Lightfoot band members, seemed more relaxed than energized. Rick and long-time drummer Barry Keane would break out every few songs but mostly it was all a quiet groove. Guitarist Carter Lancaster did a great job and hit the original guitar licks of his predecessors Red Shea and Terry Clements.
My foot kept tapping all night and the wife snuggled into my right shoulder like we were home on the sofa, ignoring the crowd around us.
“I’m glad he didn’t make me hit him,” my wife said on the way home. She had threatened to go up on stage and hit him with her purse if he sang “I’m Not Saying.”
“Don’t you even think about singing that song with “I may not be alone each time you see me. Grrr.” She is a romantic and no fan of love-’em-and-leave-’em free love.
There were a few things missing: no back screen video and no swag table. It’s a regular feature of concerts to give the people in the cheap seats a good view of the artist with a huge video screen. Lightfoot left money on the table by not offering souvenirs and CDs for sale to his fans.
I also cannot figure out why Gordon Lightfoot does not control his name on the internet. www.gordonlightfoot.com is a fan site. www.lightfoot.ca is the official site.
Gordon Lightfoot is on tour throughout 2014 and you can catch this great artist from Fredericton, NB all across the continent to Los Angeles and back to Toronto in late November at Massey Hall. Niggles aside, it was a great night that rewarded the soul. Tour dates and cities.
Featured image courtesy of Susan LeBlanc. Follow me on Twitter at @sdpate or on Facebook at NJN Network, OyeTimes and IMA News Buzz.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network
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