David Lindley – 6/5/2015 – Hugh’s Room, Toronto

David Lindley at "Hugh's Room"What? No “El Rayo-X”? Well, an artist of David Lindley caliber can afford a luxury of dropping his signature tune from the set whose opening lines hinted at “Vigilante Man” as if demanding the audience to concentrate on the stage. And that’s the wonderful thing about David: one never knows which kind of Lindley performance to expect on a particular night, as the veteran can, at will, be relaxed or intense in his delivery. And this time he was very much mellow, the gentleman with Dickensian looks and California drawl, putting no strain into “Mercury Blues” while upping the piece’s satire by including a couplet about “Costco” that elicited a bout of laughter from the listeners.

David Lindley at "Hugh's Room"Lindley’s humor served as a lining for the evening where stories about his encounters and work with the likes of Lightning Hopkins, Richard Thompson and Terry Reid peppered the performance. David might downplay his role in all of it, yet when he took to “Mutineer” with its “I was born to rock the boat” opening hook, it felt quite fitting, as did a weaving of “Auld Lang Syne” into the Warren Zevon classic. Such a graceful walk down memory lane, the guitarist’s voice still high and biting, went well with a deep dig into traditional “Pretty Polly” whereas the cover of Bob Dylan and Danny O’Keefe’s “Well Well Well” reconnected the old-time approach with affairs of today. But if that one presented a slightly blurred vision, “Meat Grinder Blues” – “War And Peace” rendered in different media, remarked the artist – sharpened the focus and provided a glimpse of the intensity David’s capable of.

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The global span of Lindley’s ingenuity was illustrated by his use of oud for some country blues, without losing an iota of integrity, and by giving “The Cuckoo” an Eastern tinge. A case of mesmeric music, the David Lindley concert at “Hugh’s Room” might mold a little magic of a voodoo kind, his exquisite-as-ever playing notwithstanding, yet it had timelessness about it. That’s the gist of him, and when he said, before coming on, “Welcome to the bridge,” it served as an invitation to a sweet world of sound. So yes, no “El Rayo-X” – perhaps, there’s no need for X-rays with his vibrant transparency.

Photos: © Eugene Bychkov exclusively for DME

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