Hitting the road to Southern Ontario for our first concert weekend north of the border this year, our journey was accompanied by clear skies, no snow, and unseasonably warm temperatures for late January. Encountering no delays with our Canadian crossing, we made the journey up to the Mule Spinner, a relatively new music venue in the city of Hamilton that boasts a unique industrial vibe and is geared for a more intimate setting between the performer and the audience.  Arriving in plenty of time, Team GDW immediately understood the appeal and charm of this ‘new kid on the block,’ and settled in for a night of music with the iconic Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Hawkins.

Having last seen Ron perform during his Lowest of the Low album release concert in Toronto last summer, his timing could not be better with the announcement of this solo gig, given that we were already planning to be in town for a show on the following night.  Any excuse to spend time in the company of one of our favorite musicians, right?  And of course, with a strong selection of material from across his vast back catalog, Ron kept the crowd engaged all evening with a 22 song set list; old and new favorites were naturally included, as were a handful of lesser-played numbers that satisfied the cravings of his long-time fans (and there were many in the room).

Opening with “Powerlines,” the first single from the recently released “Do The Right Now” album, fans of Lowest of the Low were rewarded throughout the night with a terrific mix of new and old numbers.  New cuts such as “Sister Jude” and “Gerona Train” would accompany their older siblings, notably hits such as “Bleed A Little While Tonight” and “Black Monday.”  And for those whose preferences lean towards Ron’s solo ventures, tracks such as “Straitjacket Love” and “South Ontario” were offered up too.  Recent hits such as “Beautiful Girl” and “Strum and Drag” shared the spotlight with older (and lesser-played) greats such as “Black” and “Too Far.”  The bottom line here is that Ron clearly took pleasure in handcrafting such a diverse selection of music for the show, and it was no doubt as enjoyable for him to perform as it was to be amongst the crowd enjoying each and every song and the memories they invoked.

Always happy to converse with the audience in between tracks, Ron shared some of the behind-the-song tales about his sojourn to Italy (“Rome”), baffling conversations with his daughter Ruby B (“Beautiful Girl”), and dedications to old friends (“Too Far”).  Being a well-established Torontonian himself, Ron took a few opportunities for some light-hearted pokes at Hamiltonians, before reuniting the room with tales of Winnipeg as the fodder for “Prairie Girl.”  Whilst informing the crowd that this particular track was covered as a country song (Chris Ryan, anyone?), Ron delivered a few lines with a true ‘Southern’ accent. Indeed, for those familiar with the similar way in which Bryan Adams often treats one of his own compositions, you know exactly what to expect here.  As “Prairie Girl” drew to a close, Ron’s tales of Kensington Market not only introduced the always amazing “Peace and Quiet,” but signaled that the end of the show was near.

Both a well-deserved ovation and lively cheers from the audience guaranteed a return for an encore performance, for which Ron hit up two popular solo numbers, and then two very popular Low tracks to bring the show to a close.  Going out on a high with the melodic fan-favorite “Rosy And Grey,” the wonderful evening of entertainment came to an end.  Many of Ron’s fans were eager to have the opportunity to chat with him, take pictures and buy merchandise.  Most were definitely happy to have been a part of the experience, and like us, look forward to many more opportunities to see Ron Hawkins step onto a stage with guitar in hand again soon.  A great evening of music in this wonderful new venue made for an unforgettable Friday evening in the Steel City.

Ron Hawkins Set List:

  1. Powerlines
  2. For The Hand Of Magdelena
  3. Strum And Drag
  4. Genevieve
  5. One Hundred Five
  6. A Little Rain
  7. Black
  8. Bleed A Little While Tonight
  9. Straitjacket Love
  10. From The Alta Loma Hotel
  11. Rome
  12. Sister Jude
  13. Beautiful Girl
  14. Too Far
  15. South Ontario
  16. Gerona Train
  17. Prairie Girl
  18. Peace And Quiet

Encore:

  1. Saskia Begins
  2. Three Penny Operator
  3. Black Monday
  4. Rosy And Grey

~ M

Visit Ron Hawkins’ website.

Buy Ron Hawkins’ albums and merchandise online.