Sony Centre For The Performing Arts, Toronto - April 25, 2008

JANE STEVENSON - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:18 AM ET

TORNOTO - Anne Murray's final cross-country North American tour - or is it? - touched down at the Sony Centre For The Performing Arts on Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd.

The 62-year-old Canadian icon, who is celebrating her 40th year in showbiz, is on the road in support of her all-star Duets album, recently nominated for two Junos, which she joked was her comeback record of sorts since she famously said that 2004's I'll Be Seeing You would be her last disc.

Whatever the recording future for Murray, she's chosen the right time to go out as a live performer - i.e. still at the top of her game - even if her famously warm voice was a bit rough in places. Never mind, its strength always outweighed any weakness.

And Murray is such a pro - incredibly Friday night's concert was her 37th at the venue previously known as the Hummingbird Centre and the O'Keefe Centre - she could give classes in the art of performing.

An expert pacer, her 100-minute concert moved effortlessly through greatest hits territory, an unplugged segment, a short set with delightful daughter Dawn Langstroth, a country music tribute, and then back again to the hits.

It helped that Murray had the backing of a smooth six-piece band - the majority of whom had been with her between 25 to 30 years - and 14-person string section culled from the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

And even if she was limited to one basic dance move - moving back and forth and snapping her fingers - Murray made mincing around the stage downright attractive, dressed elegantly in a black and white pantsuit before later changing in a striking red jacket.

She also broke the audience up on more than one occasion with her quick wit and by reading actual fan e-mails that often sounded like just the opposite.

"Good thing I'm a thick-skinned Maritimer," said Murray, who hails from Spring Hill, N.S., as she read out loud an e-mail from one fan who had asked a friend over to watch Murray videos one night.

"Wow," said the clueless friend, mistaking Murray for Julie Andrews. "I didn't know she's done so much after The Sound Of Music. She's really good!"

After a career-retrospective opening showing stills and footage of Murray throughout the years in different hairstyles, outfits - ranging from hot pants to sailor suits - and either performing or posing with such celebs as Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, John Lennon, and K.D. Lang, - she opened with Put A Little Love In Your Heart.

She also touched on material from I'll Be Seeing You like Dream A Little Dream Of Me and All Of Me.

But it was her signature songs of originals and covers - I Just Fall In Love Again, Time Don't Run Out On Me, Shadows In The Moonlight, Love Song, Snowbird, You Won't See Me, You Needed Me, Daydream Believer, Could I Have This Dance - that struck the biggest chord with audience members.

Murray even invited people to shout out requests during her standout unplugged segment which featured her and her two guitarists playing acoustically alongside her backup singer, and she eventually rewarded fans with a stellar version of Snowbird after warning them not to ask for it.

In fact, demand to see Murray in concert was so high that a second performance at the Sony Centre was added on May 23.


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