Toronto, ON
Massey Hall - November 15, 1985


It's embarrassing to report the child-like national pride that results from seeing Gordon Lightfoot in concert. Forget about your Mounties, beavers and soapstone carvings. Get this guy's face on a Canadian stamp. (Finally a reality in 2007! - WF)

Lightfoot has begun his annual concert series at Massey Hall and Friday night's opening show was sublime. He performs again tonight and then from Thursday to Saturday of next week and the really good news is that you still might be able to get a ticket.

Both vocally and physically, Lightfoot is in very good shape. There was a little gasp of delight when he strode on stage and he sang an appropriate opening number, If It Should Please You. Boy, did it ever.

Saying "we're gonna cover a lot of territory here tonight," Lightfoot mixed such classics as Carefree Highway, Sundown and High And Dry with some new songs from the album he'll release this spring.

Of the new material, A Lesson In Love was a standout. Let It Ride, I'll Tag Along and Morning Glory also offered a nice taste of what's coming on the new record.

For his second set, Lightfoot performed Cotton Jenny, Endless Wire and The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald, before slipping into a medley that he called his "ballad salad." Spanish Moss, Christian Island, Rainy Day People, If You Could Read My Mind and Alberta Bound provided the Lightfoot fix that so many in the audience had come for.

The sound at the concert was remarkable and it's a rare experience to hear every note of every instrument with such crystal clarity. Lightfoot's band played with the type of familiar ease and pleasure usually found only in very good marriages.

Lightfoot has no stage personna, one of the reasons why the raw emotion of the work comes across so clearly. But it's an honesty that can also make him awkward or shy on-stage, as if he still can't believe his own popularity. The enthusiasm of Friday night's audience seemed to catch him somewhere between pleasure and embarrassment.

For his encore, Lightfoot sang Canadian Railroad Trilogy and inadvertently sang the same lines twice. He grimaced over the error, but then laughed and said, "And it was almost a perfect night, too!"

Except for the "almost" stuff, that's just what we thought.

By Liz Braun
Globe And Mail