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  1. The Australian
    Edition 6 – NSW CountryFRI 17 SEP 2004, Page 016
    And we love him so, from covers to encore
    By Ian Cuthbertson

    Don McLean State Theatre, Sydney, September 15.
    IT’S hard not to have expectations at a Don McLean show. You want to be killed, softly. You want to feel all flushed with fever, you want to feel that he has found your letters and read each one out loud.
    So it’s a bit of a surprise when a down-to-earth fellow in 7cm heels, jeans and a Tamworth shirt strolls on with his four-man band, and jumps straight into Maybe Baby.
    Lovesick Blues follows, and in it McLean demonstrates a voice still sharp, clear and strong, tilting up at times into a fine falsetto.
    But it’s in Homeless Brother, the first original of the night, that we get a glimpse of the legendary. This is what the fuss is about; this is the stuff that inspires. While McLean quite clearly relishes the joy of a decent band, it’s the haunting delivery of his own poetry, in that singular voice, that has forged his reputation.
    McLean’s songs are impressive enough to have earned him a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York, of which he is justifiably proud. “Don McLean one, critics zero,” he quips, before launching into And I Love You So. This song, served as a late career snack with far too much cheese by Perry Como, takes on surprising depths in its owner’s hands.
    But though he is master of his own works, he is not averse to taking other people’s signature tunes and making them his. Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind reveals new facets, as does Roy Orbison’s Crying.
    Through an eclectic mix of his own songs and, for example, “two Dylan songs, one bad and one good”, a couple of overlong blues raves, a vocal tour de force on Someone to Watch Over Me, and the odd killing-me-softly moment, McLean delivers a deeply satisfying, well-rounded show.
    Vincent, performed solo, has lost none of its power and intimacy for being performed relentlessly since 1971, though on the night a tuned guitar would have come in handy.
    McLean’s performance, scheduled to run just over one hour, effortlessly ran to a little more than two.
    Clearly enjoying the hell out of a grinding yet Elvis-less Heartbreak Hotel, he took the State completely by surprise, almost mid-phrase, by trilling out “A long, long time ago…” Then it was on, a generous, marathon version of American Pie, with welcome guitar and piano solos, complete with spirited audience singalong, eventually becoming its own encore.

  2. What can I say!? It was amazing.

    By the time the supporting duo came on (I really wish I knew her name, she was great!), everyone was seated and ready to see Don. Needless to say, although she was fantastic, beautiful voice and played some great music – I just couldn’t wait to see McLean.

    Finally, at around 10 to 9, Don’s band strolled out and picked up their instruments. Don then emerged from the curtain, and the crowd roared. He started off pretty quickly with Buddy Holly’s “Maybe, Baby” which then launched into his second song, “La la Love You”. For the next two hours, I was glued to the band, glued to Don’s guitar, and glued to Don’s voice.

    The set list went on an on, meandering through different musical styles and Don even spent some time playing a few songs without his band, as he put it, “Like I did thirty years ago”. These included “Vincent,” and “More You Pay, The More It’s Worth,” the latter of which I had never heard, and thoroughly enjoyed.

    He also went through some Dylan – playing “Masters of War,” and another that I can’t recall, some Elvis – “Heartbreak Hotel,” and the spectacular version of Lightfoot’s, “If You Could Read My Mind.”

    Then finally – “American Pie”. Halfway through the first verse he cried out, “I’m a singin’ fool, ain’t I? Come on now, be singin’ fools with me.” The entire crowd sung along to ever chorus, and some (like myself) to every verse. It was truly an empowering moment. Finally, we had reached the end of the song, and Don unplugged his guitar to the dismay of the crowd. Seeing the crowd’s reaction he plugged himself back in and we all sung the first verse and a few choruses once again. The crowd were roaring at the conclusion of this, and Don stepped off stage.

    It was an amazing concert, full of energy, and Don’s voice sounded vibrant and full of life. He was funny, interacted with the crowd, and seemed to be smiling quite a lot. I can’t see how I could have enjoyed myself more last night. Amazing.

  3. This is the biggie – A sold out State Theatre in Sydney – the premier concert venue . http://www.statetheatre.com.au
    I arrived after the sound check amd found my way to the stage door – saw the band and everyone except Don – premier venues bring premier celebrities so I guess that was not surprising.
    Just before the show I headed out to the venue with the promoter – she had never seen Don – as co promoter and one of the biggest ever in Australia surprisingly they had never toured Don – this indeed was going to be a big thing for her.
    Don was supported by Australian country star Tiffany – sweet with a great voice.
    Don appeared shortly before 9 pm wearing Black Shirt /blue jeans ) slightly different from the previous night.
    I won’t deal with a set list – it really is too hard – Don sang and sang and sang and before we knew – it was 11 pm and he was gone . I heard him sing If you could read my mind for the first time live , a beatiful solo of the more you pay the more its worth,
    I listened and viewed the concert stranding at the rear of the venue – even at this worst position the show was sensational. He spoke about Rod Stewart – and how a non singer was having such good luck – he then showed the audience exactly what he meant by singing – someone to watch over me – sensational!
    We heard the good and bad Dylan song , opened with Maybe Baby ,
    closed with American Pie with the audience on its feet giving thunderous aplause .
    I leave the final judgement to three others Phil and Michelle – “we have just seen something special” and that promoter seeing Don for the first time Kerry Jacobson – “that was sensational – I had no idea he was that good.”
    The band and Don headed off to a cocktail party and I went my own way to bed – rest up for our next big night.

    Bob Gregg

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