A32 THURSDAY, November 24, 2011
Lightfoot a lyrical Lazarus By Christopher Foulds KTW EDITOR
Yes, Gordon Lightfoot could have sauntered onto the stage at Interior Savings Centre on Tuesday night (Nov. 22), told a funny tale and lip-synched to his legendary hits by miming his strong, spectacular voice of 30 years ago. He didn’t. That kind of singing scam is best left to the Ashley Simpsons, Britney Spears and Madonnas of entertainment, acts whose lyrics and careers are compelling Archie comics next to Lightfoot’s Tolstoy tenure. The icon turned 73 one week ago today and, during Tuesday night’s concert at ISC before a disappointingly small crowd, his voice often sounded every bit as old as the mouth through which landmark songs were sung. However, that’s exactly as it should be. Lightfoot has lived a tough, tough life for more than seven decades and vocal-chord strain on hits like Rainy Day People and Sundown only added to the raw reality of finally seeing Canada’s greatest songwriter of all time performing in Kamloops. Remember, Lightfoot is the lyrical Lazarus of Canadiana, coming back from the dead in February 2010 to tour again (or so the major media told us as they jumped on a hoax Twitter post lamenting the great man’s demise). He was hit with an abdominal aneurysm in 2001 and lapsed into a six-week coma. He suffered a stoke onstage in
Seventy-three-year-old Gordon Lightfoot made first-ever appearance in Kamloops on Tuesday, Nov. 22, playing to a small but fiercely devoted audience of about 1,500 at Interior Savings Centre. Dale Bass/KTW
2006 was performing again in nine days. Heck, hearing Lightfoot rasp his way through Summer Side of Life while confined to an iron lung and being read last rites would be eminently preferable to being subjected to the inanity of LMFAO, Radiohead, Kanye West and the rest of what passes for music these days. Lightfoot and his oh-so-tight band — Carter Lancaster on lead guitar (replacing longtime Lightfoot mate Terry Clements, who died in February), Mike Heffernan on keyboards, Barry Keane on drums and Rick Haynes on bass — led an adoring crowd through the Lightfoot
years. From Carefree Highway to Let it Ride to Early Morning Rain to Baby Step Back — Lightfoot may not have been as strong in his delivery, but the Kamloops crowd was mesmerized for the entire 90-minute show. Following a 20-minute intermission, Lightfoot hit his stride, his voice seeming to take command as he opened the second half with The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald (sung 12 days after the 36th anniversary of the sinking of the now-famous Great Lakes freighter, with Lightfoot reminded the crowd the song is “a true story from start to finish.”) His voice continued
to build through Clouds of Loneliness (a heartshattering song Lightfoot noted was written for his “second ex-old lady”) and If You Could Read My Mind. It was Lightfoot’s first performance in Kamloops, though he twice reminded the audience he had been in the Tournament Capital once before — when he spent about 30 minutes at the airport en route to one of four Stein Valley Festival benefit concerts in the early 1990s. And, twice Lightfoot thanked the audience for “coming out on a Tuesday night.” “Thanks for coming!” one fan volleyed back, to which Lightfoot smiled, bowed his head in his inimitable humble way and sang another timeless song that can only make you smile and sigh. ENCORE — Bill Jaswal of Jelly Events and Promotions brought Lightfoot to town and, judging by the crowd, it might have been a tough night for the promoter. The floor was full, but not very many of the bleacher seats in the half-bowl setup were occupied. But, that’s all the more credit to Jaswal. Booking Lightfoot transcends marketing and profit. Booking Lightfoot is important as he is, essentially, history on tour. As with small but devoted crowds showing up at ISC for fellow legends George Jones and Randy Travis in past concerts, such bookings add to the foundation of seminal concerts in Kamloops. Here’s hoping these momentous acts keep coming through the Thompson Valley.
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Published on Dec 1, 2011