Regina, SK

Casino Regina - October 7, 2006


Gordon Lightfoot performed at Casino Regina's Show Lounge on Saturday night.

Angela Hall, Leader-Post
Published: Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Show Lounge at Casino Regina

There were no fireworks, no rows of security guards, and certainly no Jagger-like hip gyrations.

But from his spot at centre stage of Casino Regina's Show Lounge, legendary folksinger Gordon Lightfoot had no trouble commanding the attention of an audience Saturday night.

From the moment he stepped in front of the sold-out crowd and began strumming the opening to "Cotton Jenny," Lightfoot showed why he still packs the house -- even in a city seemingly obsessed over having two Rolling Stones concerts in one weekend.

Lightfoot's voice may not be as smooth sounding as it was in earlier days, but the Canadian singer and songwriter is every bit as captivating.

A testament to the staying power of his music, the audience clapped at the start of almost every song, as fans recognized the opening chords of another Lightfoot favourite.

He played "Clouds of Loneliness" from his album Harmony, released after his recovery from a near-fatal aneurysm in his abdomen in 2002. Most of the evening consisted of a range of older classics, including "14 Karat Gold," "Beautiful," "Sundown" and "Carefree Highway."

"This song is a reject from the first Michael Douglas movie," Lightfoot said before starting into "Don Quixote," the title cut from his 1972 album. (He didn't mention that even though the 1969 movie Hail, Hero! missed out on the Lightfoot hit, the movie does include Lightfoot singing the aptly named "Hail Hero.")

Lightfoot admitted to learning something from Elvis Presley, who, as did Bob Dylan and others, recorded a cover of "Early Morning Rain."

Presley changed one of the lines to say "cold and drunk as I might be," instead of "as I can be." It was a lesson in lyricism, Lightfoot said, before singing it Elvis's way.

Sorely missing from the hour-and-a-half long set was "Canadian Railroad Trilogy." Helping to make up for the disappointment were memorable favourites such as the "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," which tells the story of the ship that sank on Lake Superior and took 29 lives with it, and "Baby Step Back," a song title inspired by golf games with his late brother-in-law.

The concert highlight may have come three-quarters of the way through, with Lightfoot singing the wistful "If You Could Read My Mind" -- a frequently covered song -- as only he can. A few audience members popped out of their seats to give him a mid-set standing ovation.

In this day and age, the intimate setting of the Show Lounge may be the next best thing to seeing Lightfoot play at a coffee house. Lightfoot briefly chatted between songs, and the polished performance was backed by longtime band members Terry Clements, Rick Haynes, Barry Keane and Michael Heffernan.

Despite rumours that members of the Rolling Stones were considering catching the show, a possibility Show Lounge staff was prepared for, it never happened. But Lightfoot gave his fans plenty of satisfaction.

After receiving a boisterous call for an encore, Lightfoot humbly joked with his audience.

"You guys are just all wired up because the Stones are in town," he said as he returned. Some in the crowd shouted back that Lightfoot is their No. 1.

Lightfoot played just a one-song encore, "Old Dan's Records." He left the crowd wanting more -- confirming that despite the health issues he's faced in recent years the enduring songsmith still has plenty of star power.

© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2006