LIGHTFOOT RETURNS TO THE CONCERT STAGE!
BY GRAHAM ROCKINGHAM
November 29, 2004
The staff of McMaster University Medical Centre got to see the product
of their handiwork last night as Gordon Lightfoot performed his first complete
concert since being struck down by a near fatal aneurism more than two
And what they saw was a chatty Lightfoot, full of vitality, singing new
songs and legendary hits with a surprisingly strong voice.
Lightfoot performed the first of two sold-out benefit concerts dedicated to
tonight, will likely be Lightfoot’s last until he plays Toronto’s Massey Hall in
Halfway through his 80-minute show, Lightfoot paused to personally
thank Dr. Michael Marcaccio, the surgeon who performed several operations
on him during a 13-week period in the fall of 2002.
“I had a wonderful experience there,” Lightfoot said before playing Sundown,
with its “I’m feeling no pain” chorus. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it
again, it’s a family atmosphere there.... “Thank you, everyone at McMaster.”
Summertime Dream. It was the first of many classics spanning the Lightfoot
songbook, including Minstrel of the Dawn, Rainy Day People, Cotton Jenny,
a near-perfect rendition of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and an
outstanding Early Morning Rain, as an encore.
During the concert’s opening songs he seemed frustrated with his guitar
playing –“my fingers are not yet talking to me,” he told the crowd – and at
times was a bit rusty on some of the lyrics. But the crowd was more than forgiving,
voice grew stronger and more confident, so that by the time he sang
Sit Down Young Stranger and If You Could Read My Mind, it was like listening
to Lightfoot of 30 years ago.
His vocals were particularly strong on three songs from Harmony, an album
that he pieced together from his hospital bed from rehearsal tapes he
had recorded at Hamilton’s Grant Avenue studios before his illness.
“When I was working on my record in ward 4-Z, a couple of nurses stuck
their heads in and said ‘Gee, we like that song,’” Lightfoot said while introducing
Lightfoot is donating the net proceeds from the two concerts – which
could total as much as $100,000 – to the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation.
As well, about 100 tickets were given free to hospital staff who were involved
in Lightfoot’s care at the McMaster site.
“Sure there will be some cash going to the hospital,” Lightfoot said in a brief
interview before the show. “But more importantly, I want people to think of
this as a gesture of thanks to them, a dedication.”