There’s a 48-year-old man standing alone onstage. He’s no more overweight than most other men his age, and he still has his hair – even if it is a fluffy mess of light grey. He bestows all the showmanship of a glass of mineral water (which he drinks from), and no matter how the lights shine on him, still looks like he’s hungover or overtired.
Meet Ron Sexsmith, the critically-acclaimed songwriter who counts Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney as fans.
Despite the kudos of his peers, and despite Michael Bublé covering one of his songs, the Canadian remains a low-seller in the record-selling department. Fortunately, Sexsmith can sell enough tickets to fill the Picture House – although it must be said the unorthodox, all-seated nature of last night’s show provided a somewhat cold, sterile atmosphere compared to the venue’s more customary packed-and-sweaty rock show environment.
Nevertheless, an obedient crowd patiently sat and listened to Sexsmith sing lazy, bittersweet songs about requited – and unrequited – love for 90 minutes with the minimum of fuss.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, he practically apologised for performing without a back-up band early on, referred to a televised BBC documentary (on himself) as Shrek 3, and requested a translator just once in order to make out what one over-eager fan shouted at him.
Whatever the shout was, it was certainly one of love and adoration. And his fans certainly love him, as two standing ovations attested.
Sexsmith, though, is in no real hurry about anything. When he forgot the words to one particular song, he continued to saunter on through it like some ageing Sunday afternoon stroller who finds his path blocked by a squirrel. Indeed, ditties such as All In Good Time virtually said it all, and, in Love Shines, he delivered a tune to touch even the hardest of hearts.
With over 30 years’ experience in the industry, it’s unlikely Sexsmith will ever become a Jackson Browne, an Elvis Costello, or a Bruce Springsteen. Regardless, as one punter rightly pointed out, there’s only one Ron Sexsmith. And that, surely, is compliment enough.