Ron Sexsmith at the Royal Albert Hall
Fitted out in a simple charcoal suit, Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith took to the world renowned Royal Albert Hall stage in a selfless two-hour showcase of a 20-year career.
Born into a surname befitting any rowdy rockstar, Sexsmith cuts an unassuming figure, with trademark dishevelled hair and acoustic guitar worn like a fifth limb in a fashion not uncommon with artists who have been in the game as long as he has. A line-drawn likeness of the singer projects against the hall’s ornate organ pipes, creating a unique visual diffidence.
From the offset it’s clear that the show is entirely centred on the man, the voice, the guitar. Bluesy vocals fill the colossal venue, permeating the entirely seated audience in a calming swell.
Not achieving radio success until 2011 (with pop-folk song Get in Line), Sexsmith’s longevity has hung on the strength of his supportive fan base, the “Ron-Heads”. Sexsmith has a strong rapport with his audience, who he jokingly proclaims are “cult-like”, explaining, “This is the first time in my life I’ve had chart success – I think the Mayans predicted it,” to widespread sympathetic laughs.
The overall production of the show is lacklustre to the point of there not really being any, save for the fog machines creating cloud formations that build a slightly oppressive atmosphere and enhance the moodier songs, such as If Only Avenue – a track off his upcoming album Forever Endeavour.
Carrying the instrumental weight of the show is Sexsmith’s long standing “A-Team” of musicians, included in which is Dave Mathis on keyboard. Sexsmith recounts an irked fan in Amsterdam complaining about “tacky string sounds”, and it’s largely hard to argue with him.
Unfortunately the continuous coupling of acoustic finger-picked tales of love and loss become monotonous and tired. “It’s a very long line, can’t see the end” he sings, all too aptly. But it’s hard to be negative about such an attentive singer, who makes a point of playing older track There’s a Rhythm for an absent fan, to heart-felt applause.
This is a man who makes a point of thanking his parents for attending his shows, scraps set-list stalwarts for audience requests and responds to heckles as if answering the phone – a shining example that folk music is all about the good folks.
Photos: Helen Parish
For further information and future events visit Ron Sexsmith’s website here.
Watch the video for Snake Road here: