CONCERT REVIEWS

Ottawa, ON
National Arts Center - November 8, 1985

LIGHTFOOT HITS IDEAL BALANCE BETWEEN OLD AND NEW SONGS

Whoever coined the old cliche, "You're not getting older, you're getting better," could have been describing Gordon Lightfoot. 

The prolific singer and songwriter gave a near capacity crowd at NAC Friday night exactly what they came for: an evening of the best of his old and new music. 

And if anything, Lightfoot and his tremendously talented band are tighter and more versatile than ever. 

Lightfoot was looking fit and trim in a natty white suit, navy shirt and suspenders.  His outfit elicited a round of applause, although he received an even bigger ovation when he emarged in jeans and a shirt for the second half. 

He didn't waste any time with preliminaries, but rattled off a string of hits including High And Dry, Sundown and Carefree Highway before breaking his rhythm to exchange a few words with the audience. 

Lightfoot doesn't seem particularly at home with the kind of chit-chat that many other performers seem to enjoy. 

But since he can say just about everything he wants to with his wide range of ballads, rock and even a few country tunes, he concentrates on firing off hit after hit instead of wasting time with chatter. 

Veterans of Lightfoot concerts know that the singer often has a tough juggling act trying to please the fans who want nothing but the oldies, and at the same time introduce some of his new material. 

But he struck a near ideal balance Friday, using the first half of the show to show off some of his new pieces - harder edged rock songs he calls "toe-tappers" - and devoting most of the second half to a sampling of hits that demonstrated once again why Lightfoot has been popular for close to 25 years. 

Lightfoot's arrangements are always enjoyable, and the members of his talented backup band - Terry Clements on guitar, Rick Haynes on bass, Mike Heffernan on keyboards, Barry Keane on drums and Pee Wee Charles on pedal steel - just seem to get better every year. 

It's particularly enjoyable on some of the newer numbers, including A Lesson In Love, which Lightfoot introduced Friday, to watch Lightfoot exchange riffs with his band members. 

The new songs are lively and interesting.  Let It Ride features Lightfoot doing folk-style guitar picking on an electric guitar, and an unusual bass guitar passage from Haynes. 

Lightfoot seemed to enjoy himself throughout, with comments like, "That's different, isn't it?" and "That's not bad for the first time ever, is it?" 

No, Gord.  Not bad at all.  Excellent, in fact.