Wastin’ Time

Yesterday my friend John and I took a day out to see a wonderful Ron Sexsmith gig at The Academy in Dublin. After a nice late breakfast at The Wild Onion in Limerick, we got into John’s car and headed out on the new motorway from Limerick to Dublin. We listened to Ron’s fine new album called Long Player Late Bloomer. I think it’s his best album since the first two he released about fifteen years ago. It’s full of his trademark hooks and melodies as well as witty and poignant lyrics. It also sounds really good and a lot of this is down to its producer, Bob Rock. The appropriately named Rock didn’t just produce the record, however. He also acted like a coach to the Canadian songwriter and urged him to work on his songs and make them even better than they already were. As we listened to the CD, John mentioned that he was actually looking forward to hearing these new songs even more than Ron’s already impressive back catalogue. I had to agree. There’s always new product to be pushed at any gig and usually a selection of tracks from the new release is something the audience politely listens to while waiting for the earlier favourites to make an appearance

We left Limerick around 1.00 and arrived at the Red Cow Inn a couple of hours later. John parked his car there and we got the Luas into the city. After a refreshing cup of tea, I wandered off to buy a few CDs and met John later at Chapters bookstore. After I’d loaded up on Scandinavian crime novels, the two of us went for fish and chips and after that we strolled over to The Academy on Middle Abbey Street. The venue has existed in this guise for a couple of years and it’s certainly an excellent location as it’s right slap in the middle of the city. I wasn’t sure if I’d been there before, but I experienced a feeling of deja vu as I entered (though it could have been the fish). The management must have been expecting a repeat of the recent Vancouver riots as there seemed to be an excessive amount of muscled security around the place

When I got to the bar I thought perhaps they were trying to replicate festival conditions. Pints and bottles of beer were being poured into plastic containers and, for added effect, they were charging festival prices for the drink. I half expected to find grass under my feet and the roof to be raised. Instead, we got a rather minimalistic setting that looked like something from a nighclub in the former East Germany. Fortunately, the fans that started to crowd around the stage appeared to be friendly and mature in both age and temperment. They even seemed like the kind of people you could trust with glass. On the dot of eight, the night’s support act took the stage. Delta Maid is a young lass from Liverpool who has been supporting Ron during this trip to the British Isles. Her music is a combination of blues and country and the themes of her songs tackle the familiar subject matter of those genres. She played some nice blues licks on her acoustic guitar and her Scouse accent was replaced by a voice that sounded more like Loretta Lynn when she sang. Her own songs were good and she did a nice version of Bruce Hornsby’s The Way It Is

By 9.00, Ron and the four members of his band were already on their third song. The lead guitarist had been having a problem with his amp, but fortunately it was quickly sorted. The keyboard player had just started a different song to the rest of the band, but Ron quickly got them back on track again. Those new songs we had been eagerly awaiting arrived early and sounded great. Believe It When I See it is one of the early higlights on the album and so it proved here. The band also delivered on Get In Line, Eye Candy and Love Shines. Sexsmith chose The Academy to introduce Michael and his Dad into the live set. He seemed quite happy with the result and he was right to be. He introduced a laid back version of Wastin’ Time by announcing that it had been the first song he’d performed in Dublin when he played it at Whelan’s a few years ago. That led into a lovely version of Strawberry Blonde as both the band and audience seemed to be enjoying the gig about equally. Ron’s got a nice way with the crowd and was in a jovial mood throughout. He introduced Gold in Them Hills as a song he wrote for Bing Crosby, though he didn’t mention that he wrote it over two decades after Bing’s death

Of course, he is well respected by other singers and he included a number of songs in his set that have been performed by the great and the good. Secret Heart has been recorded by Feist and both of them have put out versions of a song they wrote together, Brandy Alexander. Emmylou Harris chose Hard Bargain as the title track of her new album and Michael Bublé has swelled Ron’s bank balance by putting Whatever It Takes on his multi-million selling Crazy Love album. What a swell guy. Ron didn’t mention that Andrea Corr sings Tomorrow in Her Eyes on her latest album and its sales would suggest he won’t be alone. The band left the stage around 10.30 and came back a minute later for an encore. Despite the venue’s architecture and the management’s safety concerns, this was a really enjoyable gig. More importantly, the sound was brilliant right from the off and, while this is always a bonus, it was more so for a songwriter whose lyrics and music are worth hearing. John and I trampled through the flattened glass on our way out, jumped straight onto the Luas and were back at the Red Cow Inn by 11.00. The road was quiet on the way back as John got to my front door at around one in the morning. Here’s Ron singing with others and also singing other people’s songs

Philadelphia (Neil Young cover) – Ron Sexsmith

Ring Them Bells (Bob Dylan cover) – Ron Sexsmith

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (Beatles cover) – Dawn Kinnard & Ron Sexsmith with the Suppliers

Your Guess Is as Good as Mine – Sexsmith & Kerr

An Elephant Insect – Shonen Knife with Ron Sexsmith

Song No. 6 – Ane Brun feat. Ron Sexsmith