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Ron Hynes – Hugh’s Room (Toronto Review)

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Ron Hynes

Ron Hynes

Who: Ron Hynes
From: Newfoundland
Where: Hugh’s Room (Toronto)
When: March 8, 2012

Ron started his set with “1000 songs” which is appropriate considering the man probably knows at least that many songs. A documentary film on Hynes named “The Man of a Thousand Songs” Directed by William MacGillivray debuted at the Toronto International Film festival last year.

In his 40 year career, Ron has recorded 11 critically acclaimed albums and toured the country countless times. He’s won 6 ECMA’s and been nominated for dozens of awards. His latest effort Stealing Genius is no exception, The Scene’s Lee Mellor reviewed it last month.

“Hello Hugh’s Room! Happy to be back again…” said Hynes to a sold out house, and as the room fell silent he started into “Dark River”. It seemed like most in the room were fans of the Hynes discography. For those newcomers it was clear that Ron Hynes was in the building and it was time to quiet down and pay attention.

With accompaniment from a lone bass player, Barry Hillier, one couldn’t help but feel there was a full band on stage. Ron’s percussive guitar stylings filled the room with a flavour rarely experienced from such a minimalist set up.

He occasionally stopped to tell a story between numbers mentioning Gene Cameron and Ann Murray before breaking into “Record Man”. To experience Hynes in such an intimate setting is a treat. The audience was privy to some unique stories and twists on lyrics that could not have happened in a larger setting.

Ron took his time with each song and drew the listeners in… making them wait for the magic as it came in small doses throughout the night.

Towards the middle of the first set Ron stopped to lighten the mood.
As Ron got ready for his first solo song he took a moment:

“I’m in touch with my female side, no doubt about it. I can’t get to sleep until I get in touch with my female side”… “If you have any requests please keep them to yourself or jot them down on a 50 dollar bill and send em up to me”

The crowd erupted in laughter as Ron started into “Roy”.

Next came the “Ron is dead” story. Ron explained how a few years back someone reported that he was dead. “Apparently the story ended up on CBC,” he joked. “I was asleep in my bed and my brother in law came knocking…

‘Are you alright?’ he said.
‘I was until you woke me up’
‘Well your wife is upset. Everyone thinks you’re dead, so she’s gone to get her hair done.’

“I should have stayed dead for a few days,” Ron said, “probably would have sold more albums”. The place erupted in laughter again.

Ron started to play again, “No Change”. The fans showed their loyalty as everyone sang along. “Don’t go picking up women, you might put your back out,” he said as Hiller left the stage.

Next was one of the highlights of the evening. As the room quieted down, Hynes started into his rendition of the David Olney song “Jerusalem Tomorrow” which can be seen here.

He closed out the set with “Sawchuck” a song based on a collection of poems by ‘March Hare’ organizer Randall Maggs. Night Work: The Sawchuck Poems is a collection inspired by Canadian hockey legend Terry Sawchuck, Hynes has played ‘March Hare’ numerous times.

Set two started out with “What if I stayed”, “Get back change”, “Kathleen”, “Atlantic Blue”, and “The Picture of Dorian Grey”. His performance of “The Picture of Dorian Grey” can be seen here.

“Okay, enough of that!” says Hynes as he calls out “Judgement” to Hiller. “Key?”
“I dunno, b’y.” says Ron, and smiles.

The song went off without a hitch and Ron started back into his storytelling, quoting Don Quixote: “Don’t look back and may God Bless your courage.”

Everyone sang along to “St. John’s Waltz”, proving how many expatriates were in attendance. “Dry” brought about an eruption of applause and Hyne’s started into a very subdued version of “Sonny’s Dream” to which everyone sang along.

The crowd had their fill of the legend. When he exited the stage he began to sing an Irish Traditional “The Parting Glass”. He walked through the crowd singing A Capella and off to the back of the room he disappeared.

There would be no encore, but that didn’t matter, there was no doubt we had witnessed something magical.

By: Darrell Shelley


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