Gordon Lightfoot treated Winnipeg to two sets at MTS theatre bowl on Saturday night, where 4,500 people showed up to enjoy the musical legend in the intimate setting of a concert bowl.
At the beginning of the show, the iconic performer announced, “I am Gordon Lightfoot and rumours of my death have been highly exaggerated.”
Mr. Lightfoot, who turns 76 on Nov. 17, performed his standards like, ‘Cotton Jenny’, ‘Sundown’, ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’, ‘Carefree Highway’ and ‘If You Could Read My Mind’. He also pulled out some songs he hasn’t performed live very often during his illustrious career such as, ‘The Pony Man’.
One of his biggest hits of 1974 was ‘Sundown’ which he wrote about Cathy Evelyn Smith. Smith was later arrested in 1982 and charged with the murder of John Belushi after she admitted to injecting him with the fatal dose of a speedball (heroin and cocaine). She made a plea bargain, whereby she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and served fifteen months in prison.
Backed by a four piece band, the show was soft and mellow, proving that it doesn’t have to be loud to be good. The audience was hanging on to every word and note that was played. Lead gutarist, Carter Lancaster, shared the spotlight with Mr. Lightfoot a few times throughout the evening.
The band was rounded out by Rick Haynes on bass, Barry Keane on drums and Mike Heffernan on keyboards.
During the intermission, all eyes were on the TV screens watching the Jets play against Ottawa. Five minutes before the second half of the show, the Jets scored the winning goal. Mr. Lightfoot informed us that he was pleased that our team won the hockey game.
I was first turned on to Gordon Lightfoot in 1974, the year of his big hit ‘Sundown’, when my mother brought me to see him at the Centennial Concert Hall. Very impressive stuff for a ten-year-old, and I vividly remember the show. I think it was the first time I ever saw a 12 string guitar.
I’ve seen Gordon Lightfoot many times over the years and had the opportunity to meet him on a couple of occasions. It was nice to be able to thank him for all those great tunes he’s written over the years.
In 2006, while on tour, he suffered a stroke but nine days later he resumed the tour. Not able to use two fingers on his right hand, he recruited another guitarist to finish the tour. By 2007, he recovered fully from the stroke and had full use of his hand again.
I saw him again in 2012 at the Playhouse and talked to him after the show. As a thank you to my mother for bringing me to his concert in ’74, I asked him for an autograph for her, which he personalized to her.
Talking to fans at the end of the show, the words ‘legend’ and ‘icon’ were used to describe the man who Bob Dylan once called one of his favourite songwriters.
To quote a line from ‘Sundown’, “Sometimes I think it’s a shame when I get feeling better when I’m feeling no pain.” And after seeing this show, no one was feeling any pain whatsoever.