Old Man Luedecke returns to Halifax for the Games
Peter de Vries, Staff Contributor
“My first tour of Canada was the stuff dreams are made of. Except for the money,” said Old Man Luedecke from the stage of Halifax’s Grand Parade. About 500 people gathered around the stage for his free show on Feb. 23.
Armed with only his banjo, a chair and his own two feet, Luedecke picked and stomped his way through 15 songs in the evening’s frigid -5 C conditions. It was impressive that his hands hadn’t frozen to his banjo when he finished with “I Quit My Job,” before the crowd summoned him back to the stage for an encore with a hearty applause.
It was also remarkable how the audience was so entranced by Luedecke’s gravelly voice and captivating stories that the spectacle of him sitting on a chair while playing a banjo outdoors in Halifax winter conditions didn’t seem the slightest bit out of place.
Luedecke told many stories in between songs. In one of them he was trying to get back to Halifax from Vancouver with no money. He began explaining how he wound up eating an early, hearty breakfast in Sackville, N.B. with new friends along the way. Of course, he began picking the notes to “Big Group Breakfast” from 2008’s Proof of Love right after the song’s introduction.
Luedecke’s rendition of “Foreign Tongue” wasn’t only one of the night’s highlights, but also a demonstration of his knack for playing songs with both an innocent charm and suggestive tone.
“I need to taste your foreign tongue. I want first base, I need home runs,” sang Luedecke to laughs and a few hysterical shrieks from a few fans near the front of the stage.
Not forgetting that the Canada Games are the reason for Halifax’s free two-week musical celebration at the Grand Parade, Luedecke suggested that “The Rear Guard”—one of many songs he played from his most recent album My Hands are on Fire and other Love Songs—would be his song if he were one of the participating athletes.
“My hands are on fire. I ain’t got no more time for all you charlatans and liars,” he sang, as if to elaborate on his previous thought.
Although the energy and heart of Luedecke’s performance were never deterred by the evening’s inhospitable conditions, he made one small concession:
“I wish (my hands) were on fire right now.”