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  1. Don rocks Glasgow

    A sticky night in old Glasgow town proved a perfect platform for Don to prove that, allied to many other skills, he and his band can rock with the best. Before one of the warmest and most receptive audiences I have seen at one of his shows, the performance was masterly and proved once again that quality never ages.

    The start was unpromising. The venue was fairly disorganised and we were shunted around a few queues before we ended up in one where we could pick up our pre booked tickets. During this process we somehow managed to avoid what seemed to be a much lengthier queue snaking along the side of the building; so my apologies to anyone who saw a guy in a blue t-shirt skip the queue…it was me and I didn’t do it deliberately.

    The venue is an old converted cinema. Old Glasgow cinemas were constructed in the days before air conditioning was heard of…in truth new ones are too since there aren’t many days in Glasgow where it proves worthwhile. An umbrella is generally a safer bet.

    But this was one hot August night. Even a beer from the bar (half pints cost the same as pints my sister was told…unusual even in Glasgow!) couldn’t reduce the body temperature much. I don’t do heat and within minutes was sweating buckets…god knows how those guys on stage coped.

    The support band, whose name I didn’t catch, were going through the tail end of their performance as we made our way to our seats. They got a fair reception at the conclusion…all I can say is the first bit must have been considerably better than the part I heard.

    I say we made our way to our seats but a conundrum arose…they were numbers C14 to C16 in what was described as the risen section, which was a small block of tiered seats behind the main part of the ground level seating. Consternation when we found that these particular seats did not actually exist…row D was fine but row C clearly and unequivocally reached its conclusion at C12!

    There being no stewards in the immediate vicinity (most seemed to be outside disorganising the queuing and generally trying to order folk about) I wandered down to the front and spoke to a guy standing there looking self important with a walkie-talkie. I outlined the situation to him.

    He politely explained that he was clearly far too important to be able to leave his onerous duties but that he would radio one of his colleagues. Indeed by the time I had wandered the 50 yards back, the steward was on hand with a replacement ticket for me. Quite obviously they understood what an important and well- connected dude I am! When I pointed out that there were in fact 3 of us together, and that we would sort of like to stay that way, brows furrowed and a kind of ‘we’d like to help guv, really we would, but there aren’t any other free seats’ attitude ensued. The implication was that we might like to join the group standing at the bar.

    Fortunately I didn’t quite get to the point of having to play my ‘look if you don’t sort this out, you are going to be made to look pretty damned foolish on the Don McLean website’ card, or my all powerful ‘I know Karman and Bob Gregg and once had a beer with Don in Hong Kong’ trump card. Three seats in the Upper Balcony were offered. After ensuring that this time the seats physically existed and that the area in question was not one of these nosebleed areas you get in some theatres we went upstairs. We found that although the rest of the place was indeed pretty full there were, in fact, plenty of empty seats in this area and we found room in the middle with a good view of the stage.

    By this time the support band had tidied up their gear, and I showed my superior knowledge by pointing out Pat Severs and Tony Mig as they appeared on the stage to re-check their gear. At about 9pm the lights dimmed and Pat and Tony along with Ralph Childs and Jerry Croon took their usual places. The normal introduction followed…legendary singer songwriter.…..though delivered with a strong Glasgow accent….and on walked Don to a huge and very warm reception.

    A couple of Buddy Holly tunes to get us going and away we went into a two hour show covering the whole gamut of Don’s music, and that of a few other artists to boot. Don quickly picked up on the warmth of the crowd, quipping that he always got a great reception here and that all his live ‘English’ albums had really been recorded in Glasgow!

    There wasn’t a lot of chat in this show, just solid wall-to-wall music. Everything was well received, even some less known tunes like Headroom and Brand New World. Lots of great guitar solos from Pat, superb keyboards from Tony and ever-dependable work from the unsung engine room of Ralph and Jerry. Don commented that the band had been with him for nearly five years, and that he intended to go out ‘rockin’. My money is on him doing just that.

    A standout again for me was a superb version of Dreidel. This directly followed Headroom as it has on many occasions before, but fairly bounced along sounding as fresh as paint and drawing a great reception. A beautifully moody ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ was very enthusiastically greeted, as were the several other old rock numbers Don performed.

    We had Pat playing dobro on a number of tunes, including the Billy the Kid song and Masters of War, a Bob Dylan song Don said he had performed in the sixties (and seventies of course!) and hadn’t expected to have to perform again. This was a full version of the song, including a couple of verses not included in the ‘Solo’ recording.

    But the biggest plus of the evening…no La La Love You!! Maybe finally my pleas have reached the correct ears, or maybe the band were just enjoying themselves way too much…but for the first time in forever it wasn’t there. And I am pretty sure nobody missed it!! Only problem was I was waiting for its familiar strains so I could have a toilet break. This meant I was cross-legged by the end.

    A hugely memorable night and I am very sure nobody left the theatre disappointed in any way. The crowd was buzzing on the way out. I overheard one person say that the Eagles had been ‘as good’ which I guess could be regarded as a significant compliment!

  2. More than just Chevys and levees

    CAMILLA PIA

    DON MCLEAN ****

    CARLING ACADEMY, GLASGOW

    THERE aren’t many singers who bring to mind both intoxicated groups of lads and Madonna. However, thanks to the Queen of Pop’s horrendous cover of American Pie and its status as post-pub song of choice, this is exactly what happened when you drop Don McLean into the conversation And as a result he is often viewed by the majority of people as a one-trick pony.

    However, last night at the Carling Academy he proved there was more to his back catalogue than Chevys, levees and whisky and rye. He had his work cut out for him as he took to the stage in front of a packed auditorium incensed at a ticket mix-up that had left many of them queuing outside for half an hour. But the frayed tempers were soon appeased by the songwriter’s silky-smooth vocals and country lament. McLean dished out one hit after the other, including a spine-tingling rendition of Crying and a stripped down And I Love You So.

    He had the crowd singing along with every word, and his voice cracked and soared in all the right places. Previews of new material showed he’s still got a knack for writing infectious melodies, but it was a fan’s request, Empty Chair, that had McLean exclaiming “I’ve still got it,” after an eruption of applause.

    However, judging by the standing ovation it received Vincent (Starry Starry Night) was clearly the second song everyone had come to see, pipped at the post of course by American Pie. McLean’s rendition of it pleased the crowd but it seemed clinical and clichéd compared to his earlier, more passionate, political blue-grass effort.

    The Scotsman

  3. Just attended your concert in Glasgow last night (05/08/04) – it was absolutely superb! You were sensational!!!

  4. I’ve just got back from your concert in Glasgow. YOU WERE TREMENDOUS! Reduced me to discrete tears twice! Keep on rocking.

  5. What a fantastic night of musical entertaniment! The ‘young’ group were great-shame that there was so much background noise-well done lads! My daughter said that she would like to buy a CD but we didn’t catch the name of the group. Can anyone help? Don Mclean was superb. Having travelled from Cardiff especially to hear him we were not disappointed. Almost 2 hours of continual music, fantastic value for money! The ‘older’ group were musially brilliant and very entertaining!! Can’t wait for the next tour, Please come to Wales!!!

  6. Another amazing gig in Scotland’s rock ‘n roll capital GLASGOW! Highlights? Well, there were just so many. A crackin’ version of ‘If We Try’, a sublime ‘Empty Chairs’ and a rockin’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. It was also brilliant to hear you include Masters of War which rolled back the years to the SOLO album. FANTASTIC!! Thanks to you and your band for coming back to Glasgow so soon after last year’s gig at The Pavilion.It is totally appreciated by your loyal Scottish following. Haste Ye Back

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