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    Inspired by British fans and at least one Aussie fan who went to the exotic East to watch Don’s Hong Kong concert, I decided to go to the exotic West to catch a couple of Don concerts in Southern California with fellow-fan Tony Eagle. Here’s my review of the Hollywood Park concert on 4 June. Tony will follow up with a review of the 5 June concert at the Fender Performing Arts Center.

    For those who are not familiar with the venue, Hollywood Park houses, among other things, a horse racetrack.. The concert took place on a stage in a garden between the back of the grandstand and the huge car park. There was night racing on 4 June, between 7 and 10.30 pm, so that the concert did not begin until a little after 10.30. It was a little late and most of the punters were going home by the time the diehard Donheads started gathering right in front of the stage, chomping at the bit, as we waited for Don and the band to take their places. Others gradually drifted in, finally making up a small but enthusiastic audience of about 200 people, in the coolish night air, under a cloudless California sky.

    A four-man band accompanied Don: Tony Migliore at the piano and electric keyboard, Ralph Childs on bass guitar, Pat Severs on lead guitar and Jerry Kroon on drums. I’m not musical enough to be able to detail their individual and joint contributions to the performance, but I am aware as I listened, how much contribution the band made to the effectiveness of the songs, especially Run, Diana, Run!

    Don began with two Buddy Holly numbers, Maybe Baby and Fool’s Paradise. This was followed by — no, not La La Love You again — but , Bronco Bill’s Lament, a refreshing choice, and the only song with a horse in this set. Tony had said that it was a safe bet Don would be doing more ‘rocky’ stuff than ballads, considering the nature of the venue and the possible audience; and he was proved right when Don followed up with Tulsa Time/Deep in the Heart of Texas and a lively rendition of Headroom going into Dreidel.

    There was, however, a generous sprinkling of ballads, beginning with the sure winners, Crying and Vincent, which were duly appreciated by the audience. Don was in good voice, and both songs were most movingly sung, with Don hitting all the high notes in Crying. And by way of introduction to Vincent, he made a reference to ” the young fellow,Josh Groban.”

    After a lively Words and Music, Don and band launched into his newish song, Run, Diana, Run! (Death by Photography), with its insistent pulsating beat, conveying something of the panic that the late Princess Diana must have felt when chased by the paparazzi. I had liked this song when I first heard it in Tunbridge Wells during Don’s UK tour last year, and was glad to find that Tony (who’s more musically discerning) likes it too. It would be a significant contribution to a new album of originals, both musically and in terms of meaning,, extending the exploration of the relationship between the individual, the celebrity image and the media, begun in earlier songs like The Pride Parade and continued in Superman’s Ghost.

    More fine ballads followed, with Don’s Jerusalem and Winterwood alternating with his covers of Someone to Watch Over Me and Since I Don’t Have You. Someone to Watch Over Me was outstandingly performed, with only Tony Migliore at the piano, and the singer and pianist complementing each other perfectly. At one point Don stopped singing, turned to Tony Migliore and just watched him perform in awe!

    When Don announced the title of his next song, It Was a Lover and His Lass, I was very interested to hear the melody Don had provided for it, as well as how he was going to sing it, after what Karman had written in her Hallandale concert review in February this year. This is a Shakespearean song that appears near the end of his play As You Like It, and way back in the 1950’s, my classmates and I had been taught to sing it by our English teacher, who was British. I’d also heard it sung recently in much the same way (as a traditional Elizabethan song) by the King’s Singers. Despite my initial scepticism, I found myself liking the early 20th century beat and flavour that Don had given to it. It sounded to me somewhat like Swing music and a song that Frank Sinatra could have sung, perhaps.

    The concert ended with American Pie, and I had never till then seen such a lively and active response to it as I did at Hollywood Park. Many members of the audience, young and old danced expressively to it, and of course nearly everybody joined in singing the chorus. But then this was my first Don concert in America, and this after all was the unofficial American national anthem! When the song ended, Don and the band prepared to leave the stage and no amount of clamorous encores from the crowd produced any results. It was nearly midnight by now, and their 75 minutes were up. The audience had no choice but to give them an enthusiastic standing ovation! You see,we weren’t provided with seats!

    Here’s the set list:

    1. Maybe Baby
    2. Fool’s Paradise
    3. Bronco Bill’s Lament
    4. Tulsa Time / Deep in the Heart of Texas
    5. Headroom
    6. Dreidel
    7. Crying
    8. Vincent
    9. Words and Music
    10. Death by Photography (Run, Diana, Run)
    11. Jerusalem
    12. Someone to Watch Over Me
    13. Winterwood
    14. Since I Don’t Have You
    15. It Was a Love and His Lass
    16. American Pie

  2. Incredibly small crowd at this outdoor event. Don sounded great and said he was having a good time and that the sound was great. Hit all the high notes because of the cool moist air. I cried during Vincent because it was so beautiful.

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