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Ron Sexsmith and Mo Kenney at The Majestic Theatre (review)

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Ron Sexsmith and Mo Kenny

Ron Sexsmith – Majestic Theatre St.John’s

Ron Sexsmith
The Majestic Theatre, St. John’s, NL February 2nd, 2012

On Thursday night the streets of St. Johnʼs poured into the Majestic Theatre as Ron Sexsmith wooed a crowd of eager ears with selections from his beautiful catalogue of songs.

The theatre presented a clean and elegant space with balconies, equipped with tables and chairs, on either side of the stage. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling illuminating the bustling crowd. On the main floor there was excited chatter, old friends catching each other, and people casually sipping drinks.

As the audience started settling, Mo Kenney took to the stage. After her first note the room was pinched as everyone narrowed in on someone that was not to be missed. She featured beautiful melodies crafted to a voice like a boomerang. Her dynamically vast range left those in attendance speechless.

A highlight was Kenneyʼs song “Scene of the Crime” which showcased the depth of her voice and writing. She lastly hit the crowd with a cover of David Bowieʼs “Five Years” and the roars grew high in satisfaction. As Mo left the stage, and busy chatter arose, a blissful anticipation grew for what was to come.

There was a very warm welcome as the band took the stage, with Sexsmith sipping from a mug of tea. The audience was warned that it was “throat coat” tea as Sexsmith was in the midst of a throat infection. This disclaimer didnʼt seem to bother the crowd, who were brimming with gratitude. The band featured acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric mandolin, bass, percussion and keyboard. Everybody sang while Sexsmith carried the melodies.

They started off with a pristine version of “Thinking out Loud” and everyone was hooked. Ronʼs velvety vocals were intact, his low end showing particular strength as a result of his sickness. While some of his upper register was slightly weaker, his sound was supported and lead each song without a hitch.

There were a few false starts and occasional vocal issues but the band was tight as a unit, with Sexsmithʼs charming stage banter and humble manner ultimately winning the crowd. The group harmonies on “Strawberry Blonde” were beautifully balanced. He made humorous remarks before starting certain tunes, such as “Hard Bargain”, stating “this one has all the high notes.. wish me luck!”. He later mentioned that each song felt like a wrestling match. If so, it definitely appeared that he was winning.

His guitar playing was relaxed yet precise, as he plucked and strummed his songs without a pick. The set also featured a performance by Sexsmith and Don Kerr, his drummer and partner in song. They featured their song “Listen” from the Sexsmith and Kerr album “Destination Unknown”.

Throughout the evening the band moved through a healthy selection of older and newer material. A highlight being “Secret Heart” which was played towards the end of the night . Although Sexsmithʼs voice was slightly raspier from his sickness at this point, it still nestled perfectly into the melody of the song.

When the band left the stage the audience took to their feet in applause. It seemed as though everyone in the room understood that they had seen one of the best songwriters in the world present his work right in front of them. A surreal buzz fluttered around the room as the band came back for a short encore. The last song of the night was the lonesome ballad “Seem to Recall”, featuring Sexsmithʼs strongest vocal work of the evening with rich lows and a steady top end. The final moment of the night brought about a second standing ovation.

Although he may not have been in great health, Ron Sexsmith delivered a top notch performance to a room full of people eager to hear his words. Even when his voice was shaky he stuck to his melodies and vocal runs, staying true to his voice without restraint. To see this world class songwriter sharing his work was truly amazing.

Mo Kenney Album Cover

Mo Kenney Album Cover

Set List

1.Thinking out Loud
2. Cheap Hotel
3. Reason Why
4. Love Shines
5. Wasting Time
6. Strawberry Blonde
7. Hard Bargain
8. Get in Line
9. Believe it When I See it
10. Gold in Them Hills
(band exits – keyboard stays) 11. Trains
(Ron solo)
12. Cold Hearted Wind
(Don Kerr enters)
13. Listen
(band re-enters)
14. Heavenly
15. Long Player, Late Bloomer 16. Just My Heart Talkinʼ
17. Brandy Alexander
18. Secret Heart
19. All in Good Time
20. Whatever it Takes
21. Every time I Fall

22. Snow Angel
23. Lebanon Tenesse 24. Seem To Recall

By: Steve Maloney
Photos by Jai Me 

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