SHANNON LYON with Andrew Rodriguez at the Rivoli, January 2. Tickets: $8. Attendance: 30. Rating: NNN
Rather than brave what weather forecasters were calling the "worst snowstorm to hit Toronto in six years," most sensible folks stayed home last Thursday evening. The only living souls on Queen were a few overly optimistic hot dog vendors piling up unsold bratwurst for wind shelter.However, the threat of a 20-centimetre snowfall was no big deal to people from Shannon Lyon's hometown of Kitchener, who still form a large portion of the singer/songwriter's loyal fan base. For them, a 90-minute drive through whiteout conditions for a chance to see the Amsterdam-based Lyon perform the bluesy folk songs from his new Wandered (Inbetweens) album recorded at a 16th-century farmhouse in Boekend, Holland, was a trip worth making.
With Blue Rodeo pedal steel twanger Bob Egan as hired accompaniment for the night, Lyon didn't really suffer from the lack of full band support. In fact, he probably benefited from it. Egan's an excellent improviser, and the fact that he'd only heard the tunes Lyon was playing once through a few hours before showtime added a kick of spontaneity sorely missing from the recorded versions of the Wandered material.
It brought to mind Egan's similar work backing Richard Buckner, whose raspy, drawn-out style of mumbled phrasing Lyon seems to have adopted in the years since the giddy days of the Shannon Lyon Pop Explosion.
The vocal similarities are so striking, you have to wonder how Lyon ever got to be known as the Dutch Ryan Adams throughout Europe. Perhaps only Sir Elton knows for sure.
Bodega's Andrew Rodriguez opened the show with a few charming numbers from his current work-in-progress. The uneasy stops and starts, though far from disastrous, made it clear he'll need a few more C'est What gigs before he's totally comfortable in the solo spotlight.