Ron Sexsmith warmed up for his big Massey Hall concert (tonight) by playing to an intimate crowd of Hamilton fans last night. The band (Jason, Don, Tim and a piano player whose name I missed) seemed tighter than in previous shows, although they made their fair share of goofs and gaffes. It was a safer set list than usual, more a selection of Ron's best known songs, not so many risks. Some favourites were ommitted (like "Lebanon, Tennessee"or "Imaginary Friends") but it was a reasonable retrospective of his 10 album career. (setlist: Secret Heart, Hands of Time, Strawberry Blonde, Thirsty Love, Lemonade Stand, Hard Bargain, Ship of Fools, So Young, Jazz at the Bookstore, How on Earth, Fallen, Gold in Them Hills, Some Dusty Things, On a Whim, God Loves Everyone, Up the Road, Feel For You, Happiness, Never Give Up, All in Good Time, Whatever It Takes, Snow Angel, Not About to Lose, Foolproof)
Annette Haas (www.annettehaas.ca) opened the show but forgot to plug in her guitar. She seemed nervous, and a bit fumbly, but sang well, and made a few new fans.
Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle (www.kevinhearn.com) played next. These guys have been playing together for a long time (20 years for 3 of them) and they sound like it. Tight, imaginative, if somewhat odd melodies and lyrics...but a great sound and engaging stage presence.
Then Ron and his band took the stage. We had bets on which new tune would open the show. He fooled us all by starting with "Secret Heart". I guess it's his biggest money maker, in versions by other artists. For a Sexsmith fan...it was a good night. Only one song from Destination Unknown though. No wonder this duet album (with drummer Don Kerr) is under the radar! Play some of those tunes Rockin' Ron (king of the blues guitar).