If this is Glasgow, it must be August….

Bill Hamilton writes:

I am delighted to report that Don and the band are back on British soil, in good form sounding great and much appreciated by a typically boisterous Glasgow crowd, although we could all have done without the prat who shouted out during a couple of the quieter songs. Why do idiots like that think it’s acceptable to place their stamp on everyone else’s evening. Verbal graffiti I can do without. OK…rant over!
Picked Hannah up at the airport early in the afternoon and transported her to her hotel. When she told me the name of the place I worried a bit because I remembered it as a bit of a doss house. However for the vast sum of £30 she paid I think she did well to find a place very centrally located, even if did have something of a faded elegance. Having allowed her a couple of hours to sort herself out, and have a quick look round a for-once-sunny Glasgow, we retired to a City Centre hostelry for a pre concert meal and drink. Couldn’t persuade her to try the haggis but she risked her new slim line figure on a burger and chips.
I picked up the evening paper, which had a show preview:
‘Almost exactly a year since he last wowed a Glasgow audience…Don McLean returns to Glasgow’s Carling Academy tonight. The American Pie singer may have based his 35 year career around the phenomenal success of one song (…lemme guess…La La Love You?) but that hasn’t stopped legions of fans following his every move…..’
There was a bit more, all very positive and Hannah and myself were happy to dub ourselves the legionnaires in chief as we made our way to the theatre. Waiting outside for my sister, I missed the support act but Hannah and a friend of mine reckoned it was no great loss when my sibling finally arrived so I could go into the already largely filled and expectant hall. My timing was pretty good really as there was just time to see Ralph and Pete check gear before the main attraction got underway.
Don belted into some Buddy Holly (now there’s a surprise) before hitting his own material. It’s about this point I wish I’d written a set list. But I can definitely report no La La tonight (good), a lovely If We Try (very good), a Brand New World (never really been able to get into that one), four songs I hadn’t heard Don do before (a high count for me!) including one previously unheard Don song around the themes of love and growing old (liked that one), lots of core Don material AP, Vincent, AILYS, Crossroads, Winterwood, Empty Chairs (by request), Dreidel, Fashion Victim, Jerusalem. Also, the Shakespeare song we heard at Dublin last year.
Vincent and American Pie were played consecutively quite early in the set leaving Don a lot of scope to branch out afterwards, particularly after he requested and was supplied with a pint of beer – most of which he consumed whilst taunting the rest of the band with it (to Pete Severs – ‘sorry I can’t share it but I may have a communicable disease’). No matter, by the end some thoughtful audience member provided beer for the whole band. We know how to treat our guests in Glasgow!
Overall an excellent first show, though Don knows he is always onto a winner in Glasgow and really regards it as home turf. Having made his usual comment about not knowing if he would ever be back he quickly recanted, saying next time he would do a two week tour but based exclusively in Glasgow. Suits me fine!!
Caught up with Ralph Childs and Tony Migliore at the stage door and told them I expected no less than ‘Birthday Song’ in the Isle of Man. My hopes are not high…Tony says that Don has not sung it in the entire time he has been with him which must be going on 10 years I guess. In a fit of bravery I also suggested ‘The Pride Parade’ but Tony assured me the band certainly wouldn’t know that! Don came out last and made a point of ensuring his guitars and his ‘black bag’ (not sure what was in there, maybe his Guinness, he certainly was anxious that it got loaded!) before clambering into the team minibus and leaving.
So tomorrow we are off to the Isle of Man, myself and Hannah on the same flight as Don and the band. This will be Ralph’s opportunity to discover that the IOM is not part of Scotland! However, I feel sure the band will enjoy their stay there – it tends to feel about 30 years behind the times, so actually American Pie is probably quite a new phenomenon!
Bill Hamilton

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