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Image Entertainment presents
Gordon Lightfoot: Live in Reno (2000)

"Her name was Ann and I'll be damned if I recall her face/She left me not knowing what to do/Carefree highway, let me slip away on you..."
- Gordon Lightfoot from Carefree Highway

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: February 08, 2002

Stars: Gordon Lightfoot
Other Stars: Rick Haynes, Barry Keane, Terry Clements, Mike Heffernan
Director: William G. Elliot

Manufacturer: RGM
MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:26m:40s
Release Date: January 29, 2002
UPC: 014381112726
Genre: folk

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A AA-A- D-

DVD Review

"There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run/When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun/Long before the white man and long before the wheel/When the green dark forest was too silent to be real..." - from Canadian Railroad Trilogy (1967)For anyone growing up in Canada in the 1970s, it would be hard not to know of Gordon Lightfoot. The Orillia, Ontario born singer/songwriter is as much a Canadian icon as the maple leaf, the CBC or Hockey Night. His distinctive voice, coupled with his brilliant songwriting have earned him five Emmy® nominations, 17 Juno awards (the Canadian Emmy), the Order of Canada and Governor General's award (the highest official honor possible for a Canadian citizen), plus induction into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. The epitome of the Canadian troubadour, to date he has recorded 17 albums (the final four are set to be released on CD summer 2002), and his work has been covered by dozens of artists, from Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan (who he cites as his biggest influence) to Barbra Streisand and Sarah McLachlan. He was first discovered in 1963 while playing in the Toronto folk scene. Ian and Sylvia, as well as Peter, Paul and Mary enjoyed success with covers of his songs, Early Morning Rain and For Lovin' Me. This led to a contract with United Artists where he recorded four studio albums and his only live album. In 1970, he moved on to the Warner Bros. subsidiary, Reprise Records and that decade saw a string of Lightfoot's hit albums. His first Reprise release, originally entitled Sit Down Young Stranger, contained If You Could Read My Mind, which reached number 5 on the Billboard charts, and would go on to become one of the most recorded songs in popular music history. He followed with Summer Side of Life (from Cotton Jenny), Don Quixote, Old Dan's Records, Sundown (title track, Carefree Highway) and Cold on the Shoulder (Rainy Day People). "The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down/of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee'/The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead/when the skies of November turn gloomy..." - from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (1976)As a radio staple, I'm sure that I had been exposed to his early Reprise hits, but it was the 1976 release of Summertime Dream, and its 6 minute 30 second centerpiece, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald that captivated and forever held my attention. The lyrics provoked the imagination with the true story of an ore freighter lost on Lake Superior to the November gales. Chronicling the last hours of the ship and her 39 crewmembers as her fate was sealed in the icy depths of the Great Lake, this haunting siren song hit number 2 on the charts. His 1978 Endless Wire (Daylight Katy) followed, and by the end of the decade he had netted three platinum and five gold albums, plus a gold single in Sundown. Lightfoot would continue recording over the next twenty years, though releases became more sporadic, and while still quality works, they did not enjoy the radio success their predecessors did. Despite a career spanning over three and a half decades, until 2000 there had never been a videotaped Gordon Lightfoot performance; in fact, Live in Reno is his first official live recording since 1969. Recorded April, 2000 at the Pioneer Theater in Reno, Nevada, excerpts from the concert first aired on the CBC, and later on US PBS stations as a fundraiser, but neither showing contained the full 22 track listing contained on this DVD. His band, most of whom have been with him for twenty years or more, consists of: Terry Clements (lead guitar); Rick Haynes (bass); Barry Keane (drums and percussion); and Mike Heffernan (keyboards). Lightfoot's on-stage persona echoes the quiet, easy going gentleman he is, with a comfortable presence, an enthusiastic performance, and a laid back presentation. Most of his Top 40 hits are covered here, including Sundown, Carefree Highway, the haunting refrains of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Rainy Day People and If You Could Read My Mind. The band also brings out many classics from the UA days, in Early Morning Rain, For Lovin' Me, Did She Mention My Name, Song for a Winter's Night and Canadian Railroad Trilogy, a song written for Canada's 1967 Centennial. It is truly a wonderful experience to see this legend of the Canadian music scene perform to a receptive and appreciative audience. His gift for language evokes tales of all kinds, from love songs to epic stories from history. His delivery is unmistakable, as are the songs he sings. The band is tight, and Lightfoot is in top form which, considering his 62 years and the hard lifestyle he led in his younger days, is testament to this man's longevity, both as an artist and poet, and as a performer. His humility and sense of humor come across in the banter between songs, revealing trivia about some of the pieces, or commenting on their subject matter, such as "Here's a little tune about making babies in the north country," while introducing Waiting For You.Obviously in any live set, favorites will be overlooked, and in some cases, arrangements will be different from what one has grown accustomed to on record. I have little complaint in this performance, save for the lack of steel guitar on The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which to me has always been an integral part of the song, however Mike Heffernan does provide a keyboard variation. Still, these are very minor disappointments, and Live In Reno was extremely enjoyable for this Canuck, and I hope we see a lot more from this incredibly gifted songsmith. Here, the Lightfoot legend lives on, and it's a performance those who can appreciate the true embodiment of the songwriter should not miss.The full set list is as follows:1. Don Quixote2. I'll Prove My Love 3. House You Live In4. Sundown5. Carefree Highway6. Restless7. Blackberry Wine8. For Lovin' Me/Did She Mention My Name (Medley)9. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald10. Waiting for You11. Fading Away12. Rainy Day People13. Shadows14. If You Could Read My Mind15. A Painter Passing Through16. Make Way for the Lady17. Early Mornin' Rain18. Baby Step Back19. Song for a Winter's Night20. Canadian Railroad Trilogy21. Old Dan's Records22. Cold on the Shoulder

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is very good, and typical of modern videotaped concert performances. Colors are strong, black levels rich, and image clarity noteable. There are some typical aliasing issues here and there. Overall, I am very happy with the way this looks.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is available in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, plus a stereo surround track. The 5.1 audio is wonderful, with a clean, enveloping, full frequency presentation. The surround channels are primarily ambiance and audience applause which, on a few occasions seems a little strange, due to the correlation between the visual and aural experience. While the band is playing however, the front soundstage is strictly the band, with great definition between players.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 22 cues and remote access
Packaging: EastPack
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: No extras are included, other than chapter stops and audio selections, and the disc is set to play automatically when inserted. The audio selection menu reverses his image.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Gordon Lightfoot delivers Canadian gold in his first-ever videotaped performance. Available for the now time in its entirety, this concert showcases material spanning his entire career, with great image and sound quality. Highly recommended.


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