STOMPIN' ON ROAD TO UNITY
By IRA BAND
The Toronto Sun, July 2, 1991
Had Keith Spicer followed Stompin' Tom Connors on his Canadian concert trail last year, the report of his commission might have been a bit less morbid.
Connors didn't have many kind words for Spicer. At one point in his show last night at Massey Hall, he snidely referred to the "Spider" Commission on National Unity.
For Stompin' Tom, it seemed, the road to unity can be paved with something as simple as a song, a joke and a good, long laugh at ourselves. For the more than 2,000 fans in attendances that observation, however simplistic, seemed a logical recipe.
erforming beneath a giant Canadian flag adorned with two fleurs-de-lis, Connors stomped through 18 songs and as many lyrical vignettes in between.
Connors' songs were not presented in a traditional fashion. What he played instead were highly evocative snapshots of Canadiana - lovingly (and humorously) drawn slices of life that stretched across the vast landscape with an astonishing similarity and consistency.
And underneath his aw-shucks country bumpkin veneer, there was an astute politician with a finger on the pulse of the national malaise. There were the expected tirades against Mr. Baloney in Ottawa, and Connors' ambition to be an elevator operator at Parliament Hill, "so I can tell all those politicians where to get off."
There was also politics in the song Canada Day, Up Canada Way and a rant directed at Canadian performers who flee to the more lucrative U.S. market.
At the same time, there were also generous flashes of foot-stompin' fun for the audience. Songs like Tillsonburg, Bud The Spud and Gumboot Cloggeroo feature, rousing sing-alongs and clap-alongs as Connors' foot pounded away on his signature plywood board. The show ended with a heartfelt speech and a song for national reconciliation.
Indeed, if last night's show was Connors' Valentine to Canada on its birthday, it was that final performance that tugged at the heartstrings and brought his message home.