Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ron Sexsmith at the Sage, Gateshead - review by Terry Kelly

Ron Sexsmith
The Sage, Gateshead

MAKING the move from minor to major star can be a tricky business.
Thankfully, Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith has the talent to satisfy old and and new fans.

Following the most successful album of his career - this year's Long Player Late Bloomer - and being the subject of an acclaimed documentary, Sexsmith is finally playing to big audiences.

But although he played a blinder at The Sage, there were signs that making that transition is still a work in progress.

Fancy stage lights and billowing dry ice were unnecessary showbusiness window dressing and it wasn't until My Heart Talking and Believe It When I See It that the show really took off.

A brilliant short story writer in song, the attractively awkward Canadian treated us to Strawberry Blonde - packing a lifetime into a few verses - and even moved to the piano for a haunting version of There's a Rhythm, from his 1995 debut.

Digging out gems from throughout his 16-year album career, Sexsmith shone on old and new material, with Seem To Recall from 1999's Whereabouts, Gold In Them Hills from 2002's Cobblestone Railway and Nowadays and Every Time I Follow from his latest offering proving that he never lets the songwriting quality control slip, no matter how many people are listening.

Terry Kelly

1 comment:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this set - more so than any other Sexsmith show apart from the first one I saw. I thought the band gave him an energy and confidence that's sometimes missing from his performances, live and recorded.

    In the past, during some of the ballads, his voice would occasionally take on a soporific air, Rufus Wainwright-style, but when he stuck in a cover (McCartney or Dylan or Springsteen spring to mind), the show suddenly perked up. There was no need of that the other night.

    Interestingly, there seemed to be a lot of recent converts applauding the opening notes of songs from the last few albums as opposed to 'classic' numbers like Strawberry Blonde and Lebanon, Tennessee.

    However... I agree entirely about the smoke and lights; in fact, combined with the wooden backdrop, the latter made the stage seem like a giant Tiki bar.

    The other issue I had with the show was that the drums seemed mixed a tad overpowering at times - a perennial problem at this venue, unfortunately.