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Thread: Saw Gordon Lightfoot Last Thursday

  1. #1
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    Saw Gordon Lightfoot Last Thursday

    I am a little late with this review, but saw Gordon Lightfoot last Thursday night at The State Theater in Kalamazoo MI. I guess I would call myself a casual fan of Mr. Lightfoot. I have his greatest hits album and a couple of other studio releases, but am far from an expert on his catalogue. My father wanted to go, so my sister and I took him. Although Gord put on a good show, he is far from his prime and to be honest looks Ill. This show had been postponed and re-scheduled twice. Lightfoot was skinny as a rail, pale and just kind of had that look that seriously ill people have. We were only about a dozen rows back from the stage and sometimes when the lighting was just right he almost looked skeletal in the face. He has shows booked all summer, so hopefully I am wrong, but he did not look good. His voice is clearly not what it used to be either, but he sang things pretty well for the most part. His band were all solid. The bass player has apparently been with him since 1969 and with the exception of the guitarist the other guys were long timers as well. Not being that familiar with his catalogue he did quite a few songs that I was unfamiliar with, but I liked them for the most part. Of course “Wreck Of The Edmond Fitzgerald” is his all-time classic epic ballad and he did it really well. As a Michigan native I can still remember when the actual ship sank. It was big news here, and the song can still cause the hairs on my arms to stand up. Lightfoot did two sets of about an hour each with an intermission. There was no opening act. He had a nice lighting and stage set up which worked well with the mellow music. My only complaint with the set list is that he did not do “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” which to me is his other classic ballad. When he ended the set with “Early Morning Rain”, a song that has been recorded by many people including Elvis Pressely, it kind of hit me that to some extent that I was watching a living legend. A really weird thing that happened was right after the concert was over a fight broke out a few rows behind us……..who would of thunk of a fight at a Gordon Lightfoot concert………weird…….anyway, old Gord ain’t what he used to be, but it was still an enjoyable evening of mellow music. Here is the setlist:

    NOW AND THEN
    WAITING FOR YOU
    DRIFTERS
    DON QUIXOTE
    A PAINTER PASSING THROUGH
    RAINY DAY PEOPLE
    SHADOWS
    BEATIFUL
    MUCH TO MY SURPRISE
    CAREFREE HIGHWAY
    COTTON JENNY
    RIBBON OF DARKNESS
    RESTLESS

    INTERMISSION

    DRINK YER GLASSES EMPTY
    SWEET GUINEVERE
    THE WRECK OF THE EDMOND FITZGERALD
    NEVER TOO CLOSE
    ALL THE LOVELY LADIES
    I’D RATHER PRESS ON
    WILD STRAWBERRIES
    SUNDOWN
    IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND
    LET IT RIDE
    BABY STEP BACK
    EARLY MORNING RAIN

    ENCORE

    SONT FOR A WINTER’S NIGHT

  2. #2
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    Saw him many times in the 70s and I don't want the memories to ruin an evening of seeing him now.
    "The woods would be very silent if the only birds that sang were those who sang best..." - Henry David Thoreau

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    He's a legend. We used to use a MFSL of one his Sundown album back when I worked at a stereo store so I know those songs inside out. Would have been nice to have seen him in his prime, singing "Circle of Steel" or "Cotton Jenny". My wife is a big fan and whenever we'd do a picnic she's play "Summertime Dream". You definitely saw a legend, even if he is in decline.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  4. #4
    Gordon Lightfoot was the man; a living legend. I was fortunate to see him some time ago and it was a great show with a great supporting cast for Gordon. Gordon loves to preform and when I saw him he mentioned starting a new family-this was in the 90's I believe.

    I don't know how he does it now, though. I don't even know how he can even stand that long now. He's been sick for a long time, had some serious health issues and is, well let's face it, painful to hear, let alone watch for a few years back. Fcuk it though, he's still doing it and it would kill him not to perform. The man was a giant back in the day and one of the most prolific songwriters, popular singers and most played artist on the airways at one time. The man has made Canada proud.

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    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    By far my all-time favorite folk singer-songwriter. His catalog is staggering, and when I saw him last (in 2012 iirc), he already was looking almost emaciated, but he still had at least 75-80% of his range then, and of course, when necessary, was an expert on alternative notes that wouldn't put him in the hospital or worse!

    Still play the 2 cd best of compilation in the car a few times a year. AFAIC, Canadian Railroad Trilogy is his crowning achievement (Read My Mind, Ed Fitz, Early AM Rain, For Lovin' Me, Carefree Highway & Sundown notwithstanding).
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

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    The wife and I saw him about seven years ago and he sounded pretty rough. He also had some strange mannerisms that made me wonder if he'd been drinking. The next day I poked around online and found that he's been sober for decades. I also found an interview where he said he gets really nervous when he plays and he makes a lot of faces. We have two of his albums and like them a lot.

    Kevin

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    I love Gordon Lightfoot. Just an amazing songwriter. I've seen him twice in concert, and although you can tell he still loves performing, that beautiful smoky voice of his is, sadly, mostly gone. He doesn't have trouble hitting the notes, a la Ian Anderson. It's just turned into a thin, pinched, warbly old-man voice. He's had his share of health problems in recent years, but you get the feeling that he'll die on stage rather than stop performing. It's in his blood to keep going as long as he can.

    He's coming to my neck of the woods next June, and I've been debating whether to go. I have a feeling it could be the last time I see him.

    Favorites ...

    Edmund Fitzgerald (naturally)
    If You Could Read My Mind
    Early Morning Rain
    Steel Rail Blues
    Carefree Highway
    I'm Not Supposed to Care
    Rainy Day People
    Circle of Steel
    Sundown
    Song for a Winter's Night
    Beautiful
    Canadian Railroad Trilogy
    A Painter Passing Through
    Summertime Dream
    Don Quixote
    Never Too Close

    So many good ones to pick from.

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    I'm always on the lookout for shows in the area that both my wife and I would like. We get so few national acts as it is here in central NY state that I was thrilled to hear that Lightfoot was coming. He played to a packed house but, as many of you pointed out, he just doesn't have that voice anymore. To be fair, he warmed up and relaxed and the second set was ok. But the first set, you could barely hear him. The whole audience collectively felt really bad for the guy I think. I'm sorry I went.

    Someone told me he still tours because he needs the money. I would have thought that he could retire comfortably just based on publishing, but maybe some unethical manager scammed him out of that, as so often happens.

  9. #9
    Member Yodelgoat's Avatar
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    I've always loved Gordon and applaud him for still playing out at his age. You were lucky to see him as I dont think he strays too far from home. Gordon has - in my opinion, two "perfect" albums - where I love every song on the record. Summertime dream and Sundown. His early catalog is really strong too. I can listen to just about anything he does because he has such a unique sounding voice. Don Quixote, Sit down young stranger, Canadian Railroad trilogy are just beautiful and give me the chills. I cant say enough about how his music has entertained me through the years. By far my favorite "Folk" artist.

    Also one of my favorite Seinfeld bits is when Elaine calls him "Edmond Fitzgerald", and raves about how she LOVES Edmond Fitzgerald's voice... just great comedy and probably went over a lot of peoples heads, if they knew the song and were not really familiar with his impressive catalog.

    Born in 1938, he is way up there in years. He had issues with Alcohol long ago and that has definitely aged him. but hey, for 77+, what do you expect? He lived thru the 60's and 70's - His music is absolutely timeless. A few years ago I recall a post on PE about "Gordon Lightfoot RIP" Whoops! Turns out he had been reported as passing and had to announce that he was still very much alive...

    I recall the first song I ever heard of his was "If you could read my mind" I was about 11 and my dad had on the radio, and it was one of those awkward moments when I realized I was enjoying the same music as my dad... Inconceivable! (I do not think that word means what I think)

    I see he is still touring in Europe! - Wow, I take back the "staying home" comment... I just assumed...
    Last edited by Yodelgoat; 05-28-2015 at 10:41 AM. Reason: Wow!

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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what Gordon did to piss off Burton Cummings or vice versa, but this always cracks me up

    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

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    Burton does a good Gordon! Ha! You think that was done maliciously? Looks like a good clean ribbing to me. Is there more to this story than you just suspect they've had a falling out?

    Its Canada eh. Everyone knows everyone else, and they're all friends eh?

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    Lightfoot was always one of my favorite singer songwriters and to state that he is a living legend can not be denied. His first album was way back in '65(maybe'66) and he was incredible. I saw him many times but as of about ten years ago decided that I would no longer go as he was singing in that slurry Dylan kind of way and was even forgetting lyrics and mixing up verses. There comes a time when every artist should just call it a day but I really think he loves doing the shows. He does look really ill from what I saw on an interview recently and he has been through a lot. I can't believe though that he did NOT do Canadian Railroad Trilogy which is easily one of his best.
    We are the grandchildren of apes, not angels
    But only we are gifted with the eyes to see
    On days without FEAR, when our heads are clear
    That angels, we could be
    (Marillion 2016)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    I'm not sure what Gordon did to piss off Burton Cummings or vice versa, but this always cracks me up

    That's actually pretty funny considering Cummings is one of the biggest knobs on the planet!!
    We are the grandchildren of apes, not angels
    But only we are gifted with the eyes to see
    On days without FEAR, when our heads are clear
    That angels, we could be
    (Marillion 2016)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yodelgoat View Post
    Burton does a good Gordon! Ha! You think that was done maliciously? Looks like a good clean ribbing to me. Is there more to this story than you just suspect they've had a falling out?

    Its Canada eh. Everyone knows everyone else, and they're all friends eh?
    Burton explains in this video:

    http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows...ID/1238016555/

    Sounds like it was all good clean fun, and hilarious that Gordon got to see him do this live!

  15. #15
    Wow, that's a hell of a setlist! Having said that, you could have three or four different ones without repeating any songs & still have a huge set of songs. I love the way he doesn't just pander to the obvious but will dig out some really obscure nuggets from the back catalogue - Let It Ride, Drifters, Wild Strawberries (polka dot underwear and all!).

    I 've got tickets to see him on his European tour this time next year, and quite frankly, he's such a hero that he could read his lyrics over a dubstep beat & it would still be a pleasure to be there! Here's hoping his health holds up!

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    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    Ah, what the hell.....

    Another old man's attempt at singing a Lightfoot song (me 3 years ago). Apologize for the sound quality (& maybe the quality of the singer).

    https://youtu.be/GBxQhUtJdhU
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Someone told me he still tours because he needs the money. I would have thought that he could retire comfortably just based on publishing, but maybe some unethical manager scammed him out of that, as so often happens.
    I heard this too, that he was doing it to pay his health care costs, which is pretty sad (he did undergo major heart surgery in 2004 didn't he?) - though I thought the same, he's got a ton of radio standards, his songs have been covered to death, you'd think he could comfortably retire if he wanted to.

    I haven't heard any of his albums beyond Summertime Dream, but I have got every one up to then. The 2-CD United Artists collection which compiles his first 4 LPs is incredible, and it only runs $9.99 on Amazon. Every other LP you can get for a buck, if you look for it. I'm glad he's getting so much acknowledgment in this thread, he really is a living legend!
    Critter Jams "album of the week" blog: http://critterjams.wordpress.com

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    I admit I don't own any Gordon albums at present - I used to have Endless Wire on vinyl.

    I'll probably rectify that at some stage, but he's not the sort of artist where I would want to be a completist. which of his albums are the "cream of the crop"? (Thanks to those who have already given their answers to this question.)

  19. #19
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    He redid his "Gords Gold" album, which was huge for a while. and he did not use the original recordings - probably because he did not own them or have the rights to them. He carefully re-recorded them independently - and unfortunately the recording lacked some of their sparkle. The redone versions sounded flat and not quite up to par. It was a clear indication that he was not the beneficiary of his own material. I still bought it knowing that the proceeds were going into his pocket and not his label's - I think it was called "Gords Gold 2" but i seldom listened to it. It has long since slipped into my pile of lost CD's - that I have no idea where they went.

    I dont know the entire story, but I do recall hearing that he released Gords Gold 2 because his label had not done him right.

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    Big fan here, have over a dozen albums, though nothing since "Shadows". I like many album tracks more than the hits, saw him in the 70's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin_c_music View Post
    The wife and I saw him about seven years ago and he sounded pretty rough. He also had some strange mannerisms that made me wonder if he'd been drinking. The next day I poked around online and found that he's been sober for decades. I also found an interview where he said he gets really nervous when he plays and he makes a lot of faces. We have two of his albums and like them a lot.

    Kevin
    I know what you mean, some of his in between song banter was a little odd, and he would be in the middle of a story and kind of turn away from the microphone at times so he was hard to hear. Having never seen him when he was younger I have nothing to compare it with, so maybe he has always been like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post

    Someone told me he still tours because he needs the money. I would have thought that he could retire comfortably just based on publishing, but maybe some unethical manager scammed him out of that, as so often happens.
    You would think with all of the hits he has had and his songs that have been recorded by other artists that he would be in great financial shape just from royalties, but as Yodel Goat pointed out, he did re-record all of the songs on “Gord’s Gold” as he did not have the rights to the original recordings, so maybe he does not have as much royalty money as you we might think he would have.

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    He didn't re-record all the songs on Gord's Gold, only the pre-WB label stuff that was on the UA label. Those re-recordings aren't bad, though I prefer the originals on UA. He did re-record all of Gord's Gold Volume 2, and those versions are not good IMHO. Not sure why he did that, since he was still on WB at that point, maybe he got a bigger cut of the money. Avoid Volume 2 at all costs, get the original albums.

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    Lightfoot had a terrific bass player on his first 4 or so albums - John Stockfish - who sadly died a couple of years ago.
    I was very sad when he left and was replaced with the current bassist....

  25. #25
    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shomanca View Post
    Lightfoot had a terrific bass player on his first 4 or so albums - John Stockfish - who sadly died a couple of years ago.
    I was very sad when he left and was replaced with the current bassist....
    Completely agree!
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

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