Steve Dickinson Returns to Massie Hall

A review by Bill Monahan of Steve Dickinson in concert at Massie Hall on May 26, 2017

Steve Dickinson played to an enthusiastic crowd on Friday night at Massie Hall.  It’s a small venue, with a capacity of under a hundred and it was packed with fans to see Steve, accompanied by Roger Williamson, in what was in effect a homecoming concert.  Steve had been the original performer to play at this venue thirteen years ago when it began holding monthly concerts as fund raisers.  Since then he’s been to Detroit and England playing with some of the top rock players around.  It was clearly a treat for him and the audience to have this special concert that mostly consisted of his own originals.  One side of the room had a fair sprinkling of friends he’s played with and co-written with and there was a bit of kibitzing coming from them through the show.  But the great thing about a show at a place like Massie Hall, where no alcohol is served (although there are free drinks and snacks provided) is that the audience is quiet and attentive, allowing a performer like Steve to tell some stories and sing songs that mean something to him and to the audience, without being drowned out by conversation.

There was plenty of conversation before the show began and the room has the type of acoustics that sound like a rushing waterfall when it is filled with people talking.  But as soon as someone stepped on the stage an expectant hush fell over the room and the audience was tuned in.

Steve took us through a journey of songs, starting with “Marlowe Lindsay” a song inspired by a man who led a lonely bachelor’s life after being rejected by the woman he loved.  He had to include a couple of Bob Segar songs because, although he’s never met the man (something he’s purposely avoided to keep his original image intact) he has spent a lot of time with members of his band and he grew up learning about songs by listening to Bob Segar records.  His versions of Segar songs, “Roll Me Away”, “Night Moves”, and “Turn The Page” flawlessly evoked the originals.

Much of the first set consisted of songs he had co-written with friends from the area, some of whom were in the audience.  They range from personal reminiscences to all-out rockers.  There were stories to go along with them, some of which he told just half of knowing that there were people in the audience who would automatically remember the rest of the story, having been there.  Other stories related some of the harder aspects of playing in the big time where the sharks are constantly circling and ready to take an Owen Sound boy for a ride.  What every song had in common was that it was delivered by a powerful and nuanced vocal talent.

Originals like “Common Man”, “Good Old Days” and “Ten Summers Past” stand out as evocations of growing up in the area.

Roger Williamson was able to fill in a few of the stories, having been there himself, and his electric guitar accompaniment added texture to the songs and power to the rockers, which came off pretty well considering the lack of drums and bass.

Steve’s versions of a couple of Frankie Miller songs highlighted what a great songwriter that guy is, and makes it clear why so many A-list performers were anxious to be part of a tribute album.  He linked together a song of Frankie’s called “Ain’t Got No Money” and Bob Segar’s “Fire Down Below” which is based on it, showing the debt Segar owes to Miller, and he did a great Miller song called “I’d Lie To You for Your Love”.

The show ended in a standing ovation and an encore, filling the little hall with enough excitement to raise the roof.

Massie Hall is an ideal venue to hear songwriters in an intimate, quiet venue.  It’s well worth taking the country roads to get there.  The next concert offering at this venue will be Christina Martin on June 17th, freshly returned from her European Tour.  It too will be a bargain for music fans.

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