Over the course of two hour-long sets in his Sexsmith at Sixty birthday concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall, on Feb. 29, 2024, esteemed Ron Sexsmith staked his claim as a Canadian songwriting treasure, amply demonstrating that his body of work resonates deeply and powerfully among his listeners – whether in the room, across the country, or around the world.

Sexsmith at Sixty was a career-defining retrospective, ranging from early classics like “Lebanon, Tennessee” and “Secret Heart” (which has been covered by Michael Bublé, Feist, and Rod Stewart); to mid-period gems like “Hard Bargain” (covered by Emmylou Harris), “Gold in Them Hills” (which inspired Coldplay to record a version with Sexsmith), and “Whatever It Takes” (a modest hit on Canadian radio, and which inspired Bublé to do a version with Sexsmith); to excellent new work like “What I Had in Mind” and “When Our Love Was New” from his current album, The Vivian Line.

A 13-time JUNO Award nominee and two-time winner, whose praises have been sung by the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Elvis Costello, Sexsmith was greeted by a sold-out crowd with a standing ovation – before he played a single note. The audience also spontaneously sang “Happy Birthday” in the middle of the show, during a break between songs. (Although he mentioned that his real birthday is in January, that date wasn’t available for booking at the venue.) Sexsmith is often considered “a songwriter’s songwriter,” and indeed, it seemed like every tunesmith in Toronto was in the audience to cheer him on.

While Sexsmith has never been a widespread commercial success, song after song, sung in his soothing, captivating voice,  bore testimony to his expert melodic and lyrical craftsmanship. His genial, low-key, gently self-deprecating onstage presence worked in combination with the generous spirit of his songs to provide a warm, comforting embrace.

A few weeks before the show, SOCAN interviewed Sexsmith to discuss the concert, and his career.

SOCAN, interview, Ron Sexsmith, 2024

Select the image to play the SOCAN YouTube interview video with Ron Sexsmith