November 13, 2008
Review by John Levesque
Magic Moment #1: The band starts into the familiar opening chord sequence
of Workingman's Blues #2 as Bob mills around in the semi-darkness out in
front of his keyboard. Instead of returning to his workstation, Bob bends
down to the right of the drums, picks up his guitar and wanders out to the
microphone at centre stage. The band fades out of the Workingman's Blues
intro as Bob starts strumming Girl of the North Country. The next five
minutes were the high point of the night, perhaps of the year -- Bob
softly singing his nostalgic ballad as though he is entirely alone in the
Sudbury Arena, the years falling away from him as the hushed audience
Magic Moment #2: Two songs later, the band re-starts Workingman's Blues #2
and Bob performs it from the mic at centre stage. His vocal delivery and
physical mannerisms float somewhere in time and space between Al Jolson
and Bing Crosby. Every line comes to life as Bob mimes his way through
this timely epic of resilience and resolution: the song is the artist is
Magic Moment #3: Much earlier, the audience has scarcely settled into its
seats after the opener, Watching The River Flow, when Bob invokes the
Tambourine Man. It's as though everyone, including him, is suddenly aware
that he will sing this immortal song to a live audience a finite number of
times between here and the horizon.
Bob was ablaze tonight, Denny and Stu not so much. There was no sign of
Paul James, yet Stu didn't show up onstage until the sixth song.
(Something's happening, but we don't know what it is.) It was as though
there were two factions onstage: Bob, Tony, George and Donnie all having a
grand ol' time, and Denny&Stu looking for all the world like they were
playing at their own funeral. As though to make up for their work-to-rule
approach to the evening, Bob spent lots of time front and centre,
delivering Most Likely You Go Your Way with heaps of classic mid-'60s
attitude, harp in hand to punctuate each line.
The Sudbury audience was attentive and appreciative from start to finish.
With two mines having announced this week that they will be closing, the
folks here know all about the workingman's blues.
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