TicketMOMster Review – Gordon Lightfoot @ Chester Fritz Auditorium (Grand Forks, ND)
*This review deals with the mortality of Gordon Lightfoot. If you’re sensitive about that, or you ARE Gordon Lightfoot, you might want to skip this one.*
– Last August –
Me: “Would it be alright if I took a road trip to Grand Forks to see Gordon Lightfoot?”
Husband: “By yourself? Wait. Of course by yourself…”
Me: “Yes, I probably won’t have to stay overnight as I’ve driven that highway at 10:30 p.m. before and there probably won’t be any snow yet.”
Husband: “You can’t just wait until he comes to Winnipeg?”
Me: “No, I don’t know if there will be a next time. Everyone is dropping like flies this year. He’s looking really fragile and I don’t know how much longer he’s going to be able to sing.”
Husband: “…(eye roll)…sounds like a good one…”
And that’s how I ended up on a road trip to the U.S.A. to see one of Canada’s most important musical icons.
Gordon Lightfoot was my first concert. My Mom was very pregnant with me and we ended up in the washroom with her best friend because she wasn’t feeling well. All three of us heard the music from the washroom which was the beginning of the soundtrack of my life.
We ended up at that show because Gordon was my Dad’s favourite musician. Throughout my life, I heard his music in the house, in the car, almost everywhere. It got to the point where I couldn’t hear a Gordon Lightfoot song without automatically associating it with my Dad.
Last month my Dad and I had a phone conversation about Gordon. I told him I was going to Gordon’s show and we talked a bit about listening to his music during the summers at our cabin in Ontario. My Dad had a cold and we made plans to get together when he was feeling better.
The next day my Dad died.
I remember the conversation I had with my Husband last August and how important it was for me to go to this show. At the time I was thinking this could be the last time I see Gordon and I silently prayed it wouldn’t be. If Gordon Lightfoot died, it would force me to look at my own Dad’s mortality.
Touché, life. Touché.
It was a sunny October afternoon as I slid into my car for the three hour drive to Grand Forks. I stopped the car at the edge of town and created this video (https://www.facebook.com/TicketMOMsters/videos/1408497092508652/).
Then I settled in for some preliminary grieving. I hadn’t been able to listen to Gordon Lightfoot since my Dad passed, but I had a long drive ahead of me and I was hoping to cry myself out before the show. I turned on the stereo and heard Gord’s voice and the memories surfaced.
I drove down the winding highway through the greens and the golds and burnt oranges of the prairies; past the huge grain elevators and the windmills of steel. Tears silently fell down my cheeks until I reached the song Beautiful. Then the ugly sobbing started and I prayed Gord wouldn’t play that song at the show, knowing it was unlikely he wouldn’t.
I was emotionally tired when I reached Grand Forks and the car mysteriously drove itself to Super Target. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so sad anymore because…well, retail therapy works well for me. An hour later, my credit card was smoking and I was actually feeling pretty good.
I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed over to the auditorium. I settled into my aisle seat in the 5th row and listened to the chatter from the mostly older crowd.
Gord took the stage promptly at 8 p.m. I’m going to level with you, I was a bit star-struck during the first handful of songs. I would never have been able to sit that close at MTS Centre and it was incredible to see a Canadian icon in such a “small” venue.
I was surprised because the last time I saw him at MTS Centre, he was whispering his songs, barely squeaking out notes. He must have been sick or something, because comparatively speaking, his voice sounded pretty good here.
In between songs he talked about not being dead, the presidential election, and little tidbits about his songs and career. I kept forgetting I was in the States and it felt weird to listen to him talk to an American audience.
I enjoyed the bluesy nature of Make Way For The Lady and after a quick sip of water he sang Beautiful. My throat clenched tightly, but I didn’t cry.
Just before the intermission, he played abbreviated versions of his hits including: Carefree Highway, Did She Mention My Name, Ribbon Of Darkness and Sundown.
After the intermission he told us the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald and how he wrote the song while listening to the 11 p.m. radio report in a deserted house.
After Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald, he played Shadows. I had completely forgotten about that song, but my Dad must have played it a lot because I sang it back to Gordon. It was during this song that I realized I never asked my Dad what his favourite Gordon Lightfoot song was. I felt sad that I’ll never know.
He played more of his hits including: Rainy Day People, If You Could Read My Mind and Step Back. Near the end of the show he gushed that Elvis had recorded the next song. That song was my favourite, Early Morning Rain.
Waiting For You was the encore song and at 10 p.m., the show ended. I didn’t cry; not even once. It wasn’t because I was stifling my emotions, I just didn’t feel like it. I stayed in the moment and enjoyed sitting so close to him while he performed. I was mesmerized and overjoyed that he was still alive and thankful for the opportunity to see and listen to him. I was grateful my Dad played his songs and instilled in me this deep appreciation and passion for music and the desire to keep learning more about it.
On my way out, I grabbed the poster near the box office. It reads “Gordon Lightfoot Live In Concert; The Legend Lives On…” Indeed.
It’s funny how life works isn’t it? All along I was worried about Gordon Lightfoot’s death and how it would relate to my Father. Now it appears Gordon Lightfoot is HELPING me grieve over the loss of my Father.
I was sure this event was going to be excruciatingly hard but I did it. I enjoyed the show. I DID IT!!! Hee hee heeeeeee!!!
I skipped to my car, jumped in the driver’s seat, blasted my “Hard Rock” playlist on my stereo and sang at the top of my lungs and it felt amazing. Just me, and this heavy music on the dark open road as I sped drove home.
Good night Gordon Lightfoot, may you live to be 100 yrs old and still be performing. I’m looking forward to another road trip wherever you are.
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMsters