Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 28, 2008

Toby Lightman & Marc Cohn

Colonial Theater, Pittsfield
August 28, 2008
by Eric Sutter

Sometimes a reviewer gets lucky to hear two phenomenal aritsts on the same bill. Such was the case with the performance by acoustic guitarist Toby Lightman and singer/songwriter Marc Cohn at the Colonial Theater. Lightman shined as she played her acoustic guitar and sang a short set of original relationship songs with a gutsy delivery. The songs "Fair Weather Boyfriend" and "Milk and Honey" expressed different emotions from opposite viewpoints. She covered Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" with uncanny perception of the original. She closed with her upbeat sing-a-long "Love is All Around," while the audience joined in on the chorus.

Singer/songwriter extraodinaire Marc Cohn appeared with his band and showed why he was chosen Best New Artist of 1991 when he debuted. Proficient on piano and guitar, he began this evening on piano with "Live Out the String," which is a song he wrote after being caught in the crossfire of a stray bullet. He lived and sang with a deep abiding joy from the vestige of his ordeal. His excellent CD from 2007, "Join the Parade," is his testimony. He performed other notable songs from the CD such as "The Calling (Charlie Christian Tune) and the tribute to the New Orleans Katrina disaster, "Dance Back From the Grave." "Listening to Levon" was his ode to young love in his father's blue Valiant that name dropped songs from Levon Helm and the Band. His voice was very soulful on "Lay Your Healing Hands on Me." He told a story of a chance encounter with a 70-year-old black pianist/singer named Muriel Davis Wilkins who inspired the song that launched his career -- Walking in Memphis" was staged with gospel fervor by Cohn and bandmates and dedicated to Wilkins. Cohn's lead guitarist Shane Fontayne tingled the audience's senses with his solos as Cohn emptied his heart and soul in voice.

"Miles Away" was a vexed mid-tempo rocker that featured Shane Fontayne's ringing acoustic guitar and wailed harmonica playing. Cohn offered a nice piano ballad in "Silver Thunderbird" and countered with a rockin' "Let Me Be Your Witness." By this time he gave his audience a gift of two encores, ending with "True Companion," which received a standing ovation. A true talent with words of wisdom, Cohn gave it his all to a very appreciative audience.