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  1. What can I say – an utterly amazing day despite the freezing cold in Brighton.

    After seeing Don several times in the 70s up to the mid 80s I lapsed – and this was my first Don McLean concert for 23 years. Why did I leave it so long? 🙂

    The sound balance was absolutely perfect and the song selection impeccable. So many favourites of mine were featured, including Homeless Brother, Bronco Bills Lament, Empty Chairs, and Crossroads which was simply stunning sung live. THE concert highlight.

    Don was in great form and sang for well over 2 hours and the banjo made a welcome return with the instrumental Bill Cheatham / Old Joe Clark, which was preceded by a really beautiful song which Don said was a hobo song. Googling some of the lyrics, I think it was called ‘Bummin’ On Old Freight Train’ though Don’s version differs from lyrics I found online.

    Don returned to the stage for a rousing encore – a rare live version of Everybody Loves Me Baby, then ending the show with Woody Guthrie’s Hard Travellin’

    Met Don after the show, introduced myself as the guy who did the Belfast website, shook his hand, and somehow got talking about the Don in Ireland CD. When I told him I had a video file of the show he was extremely interested and said he wanted a copy. I said I would try and get it to him after the Royal Albert Hall show on Friday.

    Martin’s excellent photos from the show can be viewed here

  2. I thought I would add a simple comment. This is the first time I have been to see Don Mclean live, would the wait be worth it. I was not sure what to expect having read this sites comments on his tour before I went to the Brighton Centre. Would he pick up the Banjo? Would he do an encore? What songs would he sing? Would I be disappointed?
    I am pleased to say he answered all my questions positively with an excellent show.
    I must say he certainly filled the aircraft hanger, as he called it, with his wonderful voice. It is no surprise, as he told us, that his American Pie album it still selling 500,000 a year world wide. His rendition was a joy to behold. With an excited audience joining in. Thanks Don it was well worth the wait.

  3. Brighton Centre
    23rd October 2007

    I’ve been watching Don for many years and through many concerts but I don’t think I will ever understand how his mind works!

    After an excellent second night in Dublin, the highlights of which for me were a couple of songs I hadn’t previously heard on the tour (‘Chain Lightning’ and ‘Oh My What a Shame’) and the always amusing acapella ‘Johnny MacEldoo’, we headed back to the UK and a sunny if cold Brighton by the sea.

    I had been slightly dreading this show. Brighton is one of these modern venues without much soul – an aircraft hanger as Don called it – a bit like The Point in Dublin and a long way from the ageing but characterful Olympia. With a last minute business appointment which meant flying out of the UK early the following morning, I very nearly decided that this was one show I could safely miss.

    In the end I went, largely because I had arranged to meet others there. Thank goodness I did, because Don performed one of the best shows of the whole tour. That’s what I don’t really understand. In front of a half empty hall, and a not especially responsive audience, Don chooses to do a long acoustic session, some great banjo, and encore with ‘Everybody Loves Me Baby’ a song no-one I know has ever heard in concert before! Compare that to Sheffield with people on their feet for five minutes hoping for some banjo and…nada.

    The whole show flowed well last night with a little bit of everything (folk, rock, country) and surprisingly good sound despite the unpromising surroundings. We got a lovely hobo song with the banjo that I don’t recall hearing before and a nice ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ with Don issuing a terse ‘No drums!’ when Jerry gamely tried to join in and then a ‘a bit of piano Tony’ to Mr Migliore, who duly obliged! I’ve never been sure how musicians are able to improvise like that at a milliseconds notice!

    When Don came swiftly back for an unexpected ‘second’ encore (having done one of his ‘This is the encore but I am not going to leave the stage’ encores) I almost laughed when someone suggested ‘Everybody Loves Me Baby’. Clearly someone who has never seen Don before, I thought, only to be astonished as he said ‘actually we tried that one earlier’ before launching in to it!

    We even forgave him for forgetting some of the lyrics – maybe he will work it up for the Albert Hall!!

  4. Well Don just gets better and better! This was the 4th show I’ve been to in just over a week, Glasgow and the two Dublin shows being the others.

    Whilst recognising that Don has to do AP, Vincent, Crying and AILYS, as a serial attender of Don’s UK shows I always hope to hear other songs, particularly ones I’ve never heard – and the banjo – which sadly disappeared for many years but has now “tenuously” resurfaced.

    Dublin, particularly the second show had everything I look for in a great Don show and so did this. It didn’t seem like the kind of venue that Don would take to but the audience was very receptive (and outspoken) and as a result we were treated among other things to Don’s rendition of “Everybody Loves Me Baby” which I have never heard him sing live, complete with hilarious ad libbing for the words he’d forgotten. Classic.

    As Martin says, Crossroads was stunning, as always. “Fashion Victim” another of my favourites appeared and there were several old favourites such as “Superman’s Ghost” and “Homeless Brother”.

    I was getting nervous though when late into the show he seemed to be getting into the heavier songs viz “Have You Seen Me” and the banjo remained untouched on its stand. However my fears were soon put at rest when Don announced that he couldn’t be bothered to go off stage and then come back for an encore and would just carry straight on and do some more songs. Then he reached for the banjo and treated us to a good few tunes on there and my evening was complete.

    I assumed when Don put the banjo down that that would be our lot but no – he picked up the guitar again and gave us some more – a lot more.

    And even afterwards he spent a lot of time signing autographs and chatting to us, the punters.

    A wonderfully enjoyable evening. Thank you Don. Looking forward to the Albert Hall. At this rate it promises to be spectacular.

  5. Bristol-Colston Hall 24th October

    A superb Don McLean concert last night at Bristols’ Colston Hall. The venue looked close to capacity & the atmosphere was excellent with an appreciative audience. Lots of cheering & hollering to encourage Don & the Band, who reciprocated with a tour de force through Don’s extensive catalogue of great songs, and then some more I had never heard.

    But first a mention of Emily Maguire. She sang flawlessly & every word was crystal clear, no doubt thanks to the wonderful acoustics of the hall, (& the skill of the sound engineers). The audience loved it. Emily thanked Don for the “privilege” of being invited on the tour, & she certainly did justice to the role of support act.

    I’ve seen Don perform many times, & as usual he started with a Buddy Holly song (“Everyday”), & it was a relief to hear that his voice wasn’t going to be buried beneath the music. One song quickly followed another, “Love in my Heart”, “Winterwood” “Empty Chairs”, “Crossroads”, even “Tapestry”, delivered in that rich , strong voice, whilst, as so many have already noted, sucking a sweet! “Jerusalem”, “The Three of Us”, “Uncle Sam Says” “Hard Travellin’” “Sioux Indian” plus of course the expected ‘Pie, Vincent, Crying, Castles in the Air and AILYS. I’m sure there are ones I have missed but this gives a flavour. His singing was as good as I have ever heard at a Don McLean concert and the whole show was fantastic.The dobro came out for one song , though the banjo, standing to attention all night, never got picked up! Shame!

    Don warmed to the audience, & certainly to the acoustic qualities of the hall, demonstrating how his voice could be heard around the hall whilst speaking away from the mic. His comments to the audience were at times illuminating with regard to the songs or others he has played with , and often amusing, joking that now he’s in his 60’s , it might be the last time we could “get a look “ at him before he pops off or words to that effect.( It was funnier the way he said it).

    Many many thanks to Don & the band for about the best Don McLean concert that I can recall. I would have loved to hear “The Very Thought of You”, “ If You Could Read My Mind” & a few others more, but hey, I’m not complaining. A great night.
    The Royal Albert Hall will be special. Pity I won’t be there!

  6. This is my first chance to write. Don gave us a wonderful show at Brighton, and sang many of his beautiful,slower and melodic songs (and of other writers). We were glad that some of the ‘heavier’ newer songs were kept to a minimum. It seemed as though he had decided to do a more intimate, more acoustic and gentle set then perhaps previously. We loved it!
    Bill Hamilton was right when he said the audience was not all that responsive. They were subdued, a lot of them quite pathetic even!After American Pie and ‘I gotta know’ , Don said ‘You’ve finally started breathing!’ with some justification! It was as if many were first time ‘DM’ concert goers, who were just waiting for the well known songs, as that’s when they came to life. What a pity there were so many empty seats at the back and sides- Don deserved better.We can only think maybe the venue itself didn’t promote his visit very well(and it did seem a bit of a badly managed venue).However Don sang beautifully in the ‘aircraft hanger’!
    We loved the country medley with ‘You don’t have to be a baby to cry’. And his new song ‘The Three of Us’ is very sweet,very touching.
    Shame on the rude people who had taken our seats in the second row, by the way (and had intended to stay there!). You know who you are.
    Not even a ‘sorry’!
    Anyway, we felt so lucky to be there and enjoy a unique concert from Don- we’d waited a long time to see him again!His banjo playing at the end was fantastic- were were so happy he stayed to do a few more songs. Thank you Don.

  7. I believe that the hobo song Martin & Bill referred to is called “The Danville Girl”. Tony Eagle and I heard Don sing this in Cerritos, California in 2005 (without the banjo). Here are the lyrics:

    Danville Girl

    My pocket book was empty
    My heart was full of pain
    Ten thousand miles away from home
    Bumming the railroad train

    It was standing on the platform
    Smoking a cheep cigar
    listening for that next freight train
    To carry an empty car

    Well I got off at Danville
    Got stuck on the Danville girl
    You bet your life she’s out of sight
    She wore those Danville curls

    She took me in her Kitchen
    She treated me nice and kind
    She got me in the notion
    Of bumming all the time

    She wore her hair on the back of her head
    Like high-tone people do
    But the very next train come down the line
    I bid that girl adieu

    I pulled my cap down over my eyes
    Walked down to the track
    Then I caught a westbound freight
    Never did look back

    It was great to hear Don sing Everybody Loves Me Baby in concert, and thanks very much to the person who called out for it!

  8. I was lucky enough to see Don at Sheffield and Brighton. The band/singer balance was much better at Brighton tho’ the venue wasn’t as ‘friendly’. However both concerts were excellent and Don’s voice wonderful. Lovely to hear him do the odd ‘standard’ too and it is brilliant that he does a different show each time – and never disappoints. Can’t wait until the next time : I’ll probably be retired and maybe I’ll able to follow the tour around the country. Wouldn’t that be heaven.
    Thanks, Don – Unforgettable, that’s what you are!

  9. An unforgetable performance: beautiful melodies; lyrics painted with words as brightly as Van Gogh used oils. Don Maclean is not only an excellent performer but an accomplished poet! Those who did not attend his Brighton concert really missed out. Their loss, our gain.

    Hans J Heller

  10. I’ve thought about this since the night of the concert. The last time I saw Don was at the Albert Hall 1975. He was my favorite artist then, when most of my friends were moving into Glam Rock and disco at the time and they couldn’t see what Don McLean was all about.

  11. Part two;
    This may seem corny but, they did not listen, they did not know how, I wonder if they listen now? The songs about the dispossessed and the mistakes that we all make in life, are so memorable. The orphans of Wealth, Homeless Brother, Empty Chairs and Vincent, permeate your whole body. The earlier comment about the audience not reacting is fair comment. But it took to American Pie, when we were invited to get to our feet and that was great. But here’s the thing with Don McLean. You’re in large venue, with a great crowd, all enjoying themselves, but I do want to hear him sing as he wants to sing, and the way he sings you can be forgiven for thinking you are in a small folk club or even a pub and there is just him and you and few others, his songs are that personal, that I feel you have to show the respect that a singer deserves. I loved the show, no gimmicks just honest musicians playing honest music. A great evening.

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