Monday, March 26, 2012

Ian Thomas at The Spectator Auditorium

They call it the Freewheelin' Folk Series and over the past few years they've featured such fine artists as Jesse Winchester, Ian Tamblyn, Harrison Kennedy, Suzie Vinnick, Tom Wilson and many others. They offer a subscription to four concerts a year, or you can buy individual seats. If you subscribe you get reserved seating at the featured concert, but the venue is intimate enough that you don't really need the reservation. I wish that the sightlines were better at the Spectator though, because the woman in front of me must have had neck problems, her head was wiggling back and forth all night. If I leaned to the left the woman in front of HER had big hair, to the right neck lady leaned against her husband. So...intimate in sound, awkward in sight. I had no trouble watching the bass player or keyboardist who accompanied Ian Thomas, but Ian himself was seated, and hidden behind hairdos and rubbernecks.
It didn't really matter, since I know what Ian looks like. He does too, as he made a considerable joke about it, recalling someone who he ran into at an airport in Calgary who asked, "Hey! Aren't you Ian Thomas? What the hell happened to you!?!?"
Well...he aged. Look in the mirror, you did too. He's only a year older than I'm not casting any stones!
Ian complained about having a cold and warned that his voice might not be what we hoped...but I don't think anyone was disappointed. He managed to come fairly close to the notes for the most part, and the instrumental portion was excellent. He may claim that he spent more time figuring out song structure than working on 6-string virtuosity, but he's not a bad woodshedder, alternating between a Taylor acoustic and a gorgeous orange Gretsch.
He sang old songs and new from an upcoming solo CD due any time. He's been announcing the release of this solo work for a while, and played me a couple of demos when I visited him in his new studio last fall. Of course everyone loves the oldies, "Painted Ladies," "Right Before My Eyes," "Pilot," and more. He sang a couple of songs from the late, lamented Boomers (his band with Bill Dillon, et al) and not much from Lunch at Allen's. But it was Ian Thomas night, and the near capacity crowd was happy to have him there.
At least he wasn't wearing this lovely purple suit from the early days. This outfit, and many of Ian's relics are on display at McMaster University's Archive, in the basement of Mills Library. Posters, awards, his old touring case, and songbooks are on display. It's like Disneyland for the Ian Thomas fan. OK, not quite, but it is a fascinating look through the career of this local hero.
The career retrospective of Saturday night was an auditory addition to the tactile collection at McMaster. Too bad we don't have a recorded memory, but you could have picked up Ian's most recent collection of hits, called Radio Songs and he would have gladly personalized it for you. That's just the kind of guy he is. Look for him at Detour enjoying a cappuccino some afternoon!

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