[NOTE: This “review” has very little to do with Gordon Lightfoot or the concert he put on at the Aronoff Center. It mostly has to do with other stuff like surprise Vox meet-ups, secret handshakes, and imaginary drink vouchers. There’s a little bit of true concert-related information buried amongst the extraneous ramblings and blatant lies, but you’ll have to dig for it. Consider yourself warned.]
How I Ended Up at a Gordon Lightfoot Concert With a Guy I’d Never Met Before
A strange thing happened on Friday evening. I was sitting at my computer wasting time when I got a message asking if I wanted a free ticket to a Gordon Lightfoot concert. The message was from local Vox stalwarts, Amy and Scott. They had two tickets for the show, but Amy wasn’t up for a night on the town. For some reason I still don’t fully understand, they decided to ask me. I only knew the couple from their respective Vox pages; I’d never seen or spoken with either of them in person. My initial reaction was a resounding “No!” Why would I want to go to a concert with some guy I’d never even met before? More importantly, why would some guy I’d never even met before want to go to a concert with me?!
Things were more complicated than that, though. I actually like Gordon Lightfoot; I like him a lot. The only reason I hadn’t made plans to see the show on my own was that a surprise $334.69 electric/gas bill recently ate through all my disposable income for the month. I decided to break my date with the girl from the gym and accept the concert invitation.
Scott and I agreed to meet at the coat-check at 7:45. I got there early and stood up against the wall trying to look like Vincent D’Onofrio. I’d been waiting for about 15 minutes when I noticed that the coat-check looked awfully small for a venue that seats 2,700. I quickly walked to the other end of the building and found another coat-check. Yes, there were two frickin’ coat-checks! I spent the next ten minutes walking from one end of the building to the other trying to recognize a man I only knew from a blurry member image. Was this a belated April Fool’s joke? I imagined Amy and Scott planning to send me down to the Aronoff where I’d spend half an hour walking back and forth between the two coat-checks asking all the dark-haired men of a certain age if they had anything they wanted to give me for free. Those jerks! What did I ever do to them? I quickly thought of a dozen smart-assed comments I’d left them. Ah, I shouldn’t have mocked the CD Scott’s band put out. I shouldn’t have told him I’ve been looking for it in the local bargain bins. That was stupid of me.
I walked back and forth at least a dozen times.
With about five minutes to go before showtime, bells were ringing and lights were dimming. I was about to kick down the gigantic Kermit the Frog made of canned goods that inexplicably stood in the lobby, when Scott and I finally found each other. He was talking to an ugly dude he thought was me. Haven’t you seen my self-portraits, Scott? I’m a handsome bastard! He ditched the ugly dude and we shook hands. We started off with the traditional businessman shake and then transitioned into the top-secret handshake that Vox sent us via e-mail when we informed them of the first ever Queen City Voxers Meet-up. (We also got free shirts and a $50 drink voucher to split between the two of us.) After the top-secret Vox handshake, we transitioned into one of those chest-knocking, back-slapping hug-things that athletes do after successfully performing feats of great skill. It was all Scott, though. I just let him have his way because I was getting a free ticket out of it. I think he took it too far. Afterall, we’d only just met.
A Legitimate Account of the First Set
We went on in and quickly found our seats. Before we even had a chance to attempt a real conversation, a skinny little man close to 70 strutted out and started singing “Cotton Jenny”. Contrary to what you may have heard, Gordon Lightfoot is cooler than you, me, and your favorite singer put together. His voice is shaky, but when a singer has songs as good as his, it doesn’t really matter that much. I’m willing to overlook some vocal issues to see the man and hear those songs live.
The first half of the show was heavy on the hits. Mr. Lightfoot and his band played “Carefree Highway”, “Rainy Day People”, “Beautiful”, “Ribbon of Darkness”, “Sundown”, and a touching version of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” to end the set.
Here’s the setlist for the first half of the show:
First set: Cotton Jenny/Carefree Highway/Sea of Tranquility/14 Karat Gold/Never Too Close/A Painter Passing Through/In My Fashion/Rainy Day People/Shadows/Beautiful/The Watchman’s Gone/Ribbon of Darkness/Sundown/The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
What Happened During the Intermission
Something odd happened during the intermission. Scott and I talked and (I think) we actually got along. There were none of those awkward silences that often plague new people. We just chatted away like we’d known each other for years…or at least weeks. Even more important, I didn’t feel the urge to punch him even once. I usually want to punch men when they open their mouths.
The Second Set/Early Morning Rain
After about 15 minutes or so, Gordon Lightfoot and his band came on back out and started in on the second set. I wasn’t familiar with as many of these songs, but I still enjoyed myself. The best part, of course, was getting to hear “Early Morning Rain”. It’s one of my all-time favorite songs. I’ve loved that song ever since I was 14 or 15 and found it on my parents’ vinyl copy of Peter, Paul & Mary’s Ten Years Together. Really, is there a better song out there? How many other songs have been covered by Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan?
Here’s the setlist for the second half:
Second set: Triangle/Hangdog Hotel Room/Restless/If Children Had Wings/Waiting For You/Make Way For the Lady/If You Could Read My Mind/My Little Love/Early Morning Rain/Blackberry Wine
Encore: Old Dan’s Records
The Part That I Totally Made Up at 3:00 in the Morning While Listening to “Carefree Highway” on Repeat
We were barely into the second set and our Vox drink voucher was long gone. Fortunately, I never go to a show without a bottle of slivovitz in my pants. We hit that bottle hard. We were hootin’, hollerin’, and clappin’ at inappropriate times like all the other rubes in the audience. Scott kept shouting for “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” even though it had already been played in the first set. He really wanted to hear it again. It was kind of embarrassing, but I didn’t pay much attention to his drunken outbursts because I was too busy making out with the woman sitting to my left. Her name was Ann, and I’ll be damned if I recall her face. I remember her mouth tasted like cinnamon, though. Eventually Ann’s husband came back from the bathroom and we had to stop. I joined Scott in shouting for “Edmund Fitzgerald”. Three ushers approached from the aisle and tried to get us to shut up. Scott started in on a rant about it still being a free country, but I wasn’t having any of it. The time for talk was over; it was time for drunken violence. I smashed the empty slivovitz bottle into the face of the biggest usher. She went down and Scott took care of the other two before they knew what was going on. We ran out of the Aronoff Center just as “Old Dan’s Records” was coming to a close.
The Real Conclusion
Overall, it was a great show. In a perfect world, I would’ve traded in a couple of the songs I didn’t know for “Did She Mention My Name” or “For Lovin’ Me”, but that’s not a big deal. Those were the only personal favorites I didn’t get to hear.
I Couldn’t Make This Up If I Tried
On the way home, I think I saw my first girlfriend’s twin sister walking a dog.