The following as reported by CTV:

It was a hero's welcome for Gordon Lightfoot as he returned to the stage after a near-death illness at a rock concert to benefit flood victims in this eastern Ontario city.

The legendary singer-songwriter confidently took the stage late Friday and played five songs including his classic hit, If You Could Read My Mind and his new single Inspiration Lady.

Wearing a blue shirt, tight black jeans and suspenders, Lightfoot's vocal pipes sounded delicate but strong. He performed alone on stage, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. He smiled and nodded in appreciation as the crowd gave him several standing ovations.

Local favourite Ronnie Hawkins, who invited Lightfoot to perform at the event, introduced the folk troubadour by calling him, "legend of legends, icon of icons. (He's) one of the great talents of the world."

Backstage, Lightfoot was humble as he spoke about his return to the stage, which took place at the local hockey arena and included five acts.

"It's a nice opportunity for Ronnie and I to work together. It's a real good cause," he said minutes before performing.

Lightfoot's appearance was highly anticipated as the folk legend hasn't formally sung in public since 2002 when he nearly died after an artery ruptured in his abdomen. There was a brief, impromptu appearance last month in Orillia, Ont., but the singer only performed one song.

Lightfoot, 65, spent three months in hospital recovering, including five weeks in a coma.

"I'm just working my way back. I was down for a bit like the Hawk," said Lightfoot of his recovery. "We're fighting our way back and we're going to keep on truckin'."

Thrilled organizers said more than 4,200 tickets had been sold for the event at $42.50 a piece. Along with donations from local businesses, the fundraising event generated more than $300,000.

"We're a tag team," said a jovial Hawkins, an arm wrapped around Lightfoot. "Gordon has the talent and I've got good looks and a beautiful body. We're unstoppable."