Plymouth concert – fan reviews

Name: hannah
Show: Plymouth
Review: We arrived at the Pavilions at 7.30pm (8pm start).  I was absolutely shattered having awoken at some unearthly hour this morning because the hotel room in Tunbridge Wells which I had booked into for the
night was like an icebox.

How does he do it?, I mused, while being thrown about on the train back to Portsmouth, and then during the long drive down to Plymouth. I feel half dead and all I have to do is WATCH. I have never been to two consecutive shows on consecutive days before and it has made me realise what incredibly hard work it must be for Don, haring from one venue to the next, soundchecks and whatever, a 3 hour concert, sitting there patiently signing a million autographs (and those were just for Cookie!) piling off to some hotel and then doing it all again the next day.  It’s amazing. The audience are very different from last night.  Last night it was all ancient dyed-in-the-wool Don fans and if he had forgotten all the words the audience would have filled in for him. There are some of those here obviously but I’m aware that many of them are new to Don’s concerts. They’re relaxed and receptive though and when Don appears he seems more relaxed as well.

He starts with the usual sort of songs, Maybe Baby, Fool’s Paradise and La La Love You. I hold my breath at this point.  Will he go for those high notes in the chorus that he didn’t get last night?

Nope.  You just had to imagine them.

He continues with Homeless Brother, It’s Just The Sun, And I Love You So and Castles in the Air.  He talks about the aging process and makes some ah – some complimentary comments about Burt Reynolds’ appearance.

There followed Angry Words, My Love Was True, Little Sister, Everyday, Superman’s Ghost, Jerusalem and finally Crying.  He must have been saving himself for this one because he duly hit the high notes this time.  “And that’s only the first half” says Don cheerily as he strolls off, presumably for his well-earned Guinness.

My brother who has accompanied me and who hasn’t seen Don since the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1980 comments that if the drummer just played symbols on the quiet ones it would be better as the tap tapping is a bit intrusive.

Last night was fine but I find I’m enjoying this concert more.  There was no need to queue for the loo for half an hour for one thing (what do some women do in there?!), the songs are a bit more unusual and there’s more room to float about.  It’s not so hectic and there’s a fresh sea breeze wafting in through the open doors.

When Don appears minus the band at the start of the second half my heart leaps with joy.  I try to love the band, I really do.  I tell myself that without them Don would probably have had a heart attack years ago, he clearly enjoys playing with them, they take the pressure of him a bit, they’re very professional and since American Pie means that he doesn’t have to work again if he doesn’t want to and probably wouldn’t want to
without them, it’s probably all down to them that Don is here now and I should be jolly grateful to them.

Sigh.  I s’pose it’s true.  Thanks band.  But like many other fans of my era, I just can’t help longing for those halcyon days when Don used to stand up there with just his guitar or banjo and we got just Don, pure and undiluted.  So I resolve to make the most of the few songs Don says he’s going to do solo.

Last night someone had requested “My Best To You” a Kitty Lester song that he used to do back in about 1980.  I really love that song and it’s not on any of his records so I asked if he would do it again tonight.  Didn’t know whether he would – whether it was right for tonight but yeessss!!! – Don duly kicks off with this one and I’m ecstatic.  Next come Empty Chairs, Wonderful Baby (a popular choice) and Where Were You Baby.  This is good I think to myself.  Shades of the old Don.  If he carries on like this the aging Don dudes who are lucky enough to be going to his remaining concerts (I’m mentioning no names!) are in for a real treat.

He talks about Marty Robbins and a western album he is putting together and does Billy The Kidd which is not going to be on it!

Then he does a song, the words to which are complete nonsense, in the same way as “On the Amazon”, to the tune of Dixie.  The words are by Carl Samber apparently.  I’ve not heard it before but my brother says he’s seen Arthur Askey do it.  Arthur Askey?  Good grief!  He’ll be doing George Formby songs next!  It’s a delight though.  I’ve always adored Don’s silly songs. It’s reminds me of his old banjo slots.

All too soon the band re-appear and we’re treated to Winterwood, Fashion Victim, Have You Seen Me, Run Diana Run which reminds me a bit of Prime Time, and of course American Pie after which the audience start stomping for more.

“Don’t worry” I say suavely to the folks next to me. “He hasn’t done Vincent yet”.

But as a final treat he comes back minus the band again and sings Vincent with just his guitar for backing.  Last night Tony Migliori did some clever stringy sounding stuff in the background which was very pleasant indeed.  But just Don and his guitar with no frills – now for me at least, that’s utter perfection and a thoroughly high spot on which to end.

I queue up again after the show.  I’ve brought along my two Don McLean songbooks and I ask Don if he’ll autograph them. (Cookie’s giving me ideas). Don obligingly tattoos his signature on his forearm on Songbook no. 1, and on his jeanclad leg on Songbook 2.  A permanent special reminder of a very special concert. Many thanks Don.
Name: keith pinder
Show: plymouth
Review: I last saw Don in Birmingham several years ago & was eagerly awaiting this concert. I took along my girlfriend, Liz, and my sister (Chris) & her partner (Gary) none of whom had seen Don live before. The venue was large and airy, and sadly only two-thirds full, perhaps affecting the sound quality. Don played , by my counting, 14 songs before the interval, and 12 after, in a concert of over 2 hours. I thought Don looked tired when he emerged on stage, (probably not surprising given the schedule) but he & his band launched into “Maybe Baby” & “Fools Paradise” energetically! However the music tended to overwhelm Don’s voice due to the high volume. A change of tempo with “Homeless Brother” brought a better balance & Don’svoice could be heard over the band-I guess the sound engineers had adjusted things a little by this time.

Then, one of my favourite Don numbers, “It’s just the Sun”, followed by “And I love you so”. (I am biased in preferring these slower, melodic tunes over the others so by now was well into enjoying the evening, and Don’s voice, which as ever was rich & up to the challenges (eg. of singing “crying” -though that came later).

“Castles in the Air” was spoilt for me by some over-intrusive drumming & I’m not sure if the drummer was on the same song! It seemed like that anyway….

“Angry Words” and “My love was true” followed by “Little Sister” “Everyday” “Superman’s Ghost” “Jerusalem” & “Crying” all came before a (deserved) interval break an hour later.

The second half included “Wonderful Baby” & a fantastic “Where were you Baby?”, “Winterwood”, a nonsense song(title I didn’t get but to the tune of “Dixie-land”, “Story of Billy the Kid” ,Run Diana Run (backing too loud again), “Fashion Victim” and of course A. Pie (with fine instrumental section). Don finished the night with a captivating “Vincent” (the encore).

We 4 left well pleased with the evenings’ music having enjoyed both it & Don’s (many) amusing asides, including the one about the loo roll! For those who care greatly about the outfit, Don wore black shirt & trousers with motif (difficult to identify) to lapels & cuffs.(Fashion Victims?)
Name: Ruth Cremin
Show: Plymouth, England 19 May 2003
Review: It was wonderful to come and see Don after such a long time.I last him at the London Paladium in the late 70’s early 80’s. Even though we are all that much older, his voice sounds just the same. It was a lovely evening, much enjoyed. Thankyou.
Name: Anthony Rose
Show: Plymouth
Review: I have to say that I was disappointed with Don McLean’s concert in PLymouth last night.  Couldn’t complain about quantity as Don was on stage for over 2 hours, but unfortunately, for much of that time he had his musicians with him whose wall of sound obliterated Don’s acoustic guitar and smothered his voice making it barely audible.  It is only fair to say though that his musicians were extremely competent and augured well as a rock n roll band.

For many of us in the two thirds full hall, the most enjoyable section followed directly on from the interval when Don played a short acoustic set and when he encored acoustically on Vincent at the end of the concert. The concert started with Don and band playing some early rock n roll which seemed, to me, to lack some lustre which was not helped through the 4 or 5
songs being taken at the same pace in the same key without a break. Communication between Don and the audience was minimal except during the acoustic set so whilst there was an awful lot of songs being sung it would have been more interesting, for me at least, to have heard about some of the background to why he had written some of the songs or learned songs of other writers.

This may be a little cynical on my part but, as expected, Don finished the concert on American Pie which had been extended through additional instrumental parts working the audience into a sort of frenzy, then when the song had finished the band began playing Pie again with a strong beat to direct hand-clapping in rhythm to engineer an encore.  My view is that Don would have received an encore regardless of the band’s prompting as we all enjoyed singing American Pie and I expect that we always will do! Sometimes you think that you are the only person with such views but when walking back to the car park I overheard other people making similar comments.

I had been looking forward to this concert, I hadn’t seen Don in concert for over 20 years, and had gone full of anticipation only to be disappointed.  Personally I don’t think that there was a need for a loud rock n roll band – adding loud instruments does not necessarily equate to better or improved.  Don McLean writes some very fine songs which can
speak volumes with just asn acoustic guitar alone.  I may be a little biased in saying that being an acoustic guitarist guitar player myself, but I can also appreciate that it would have been some buzz playing music with Don’s superb musicians but that buzz needs to communicate with the listeners which I don’t think that it did last night mores the pity.
Name: Peter Swain
Show: Plymouth
Review: My first ‘live’ experience of Don and his music. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but the excellent backing band was just too loud man, too loud! You don’t need them Don. The voice is as good as when I first listened in 1971.

Diana Tribute was just noisy and not well received. The classics were there: Vincent as an encore was beautiful.

More accoustic numbers in the set, balanced by the rock stuff would have been great; even for such an unsympathetic venue as the Pavilions.

Thank you for the music, Don. It’s still alive!!

Tunbridge Wells concert – fan reviews

Name: Sylvia Waite
Show: Tunbridge Wells
Review: Thank you for a magical evening on  18th MAy.  Despite the battle with the appalling sound system and worse lighting, Don could still deliver a master class of understated musical genius. Songs to wrench the emotions were delivered with such feeling. He commanded the silence with ‘Vincent’in an atmosphere reverential in it’s intensity. And ‘The very thought of you’ was so unexpected and beautifully sung it brought tears to my eyes and heart. I had never heard ‘If we try’ until this night but it is already my new best favourite. Please come back soon, please do some TV next time, Please more videos and can I have your children? With much love and thanks.
Name: Klaus Rolland
Show: Tunbridge Wells
After killing only two outer mirrors from other cars -because of the crazy british lefthand traffic(the people were very indulgent and friendly with me)  – we reached Royal Tunbridge Wells. To the show: After part 1 of the show my daughter said to me, the first thing she would do, is to fire the sound engineer; I was satisfied – like everytime I saw – and heard Don McLean (this was the 5th time: 1973 in Frankfurt – 2000 in London – 2001 in Dublin and Belfast). After part 2 of the concert we were both complete enthusiastic obout it. After the show I received an authograph from the artist. He said “Hi” – I said “Dankeschne” – and I was happy. A lot of anticipated joy I have for July in Roscomon/IRL. I hope I can be there.

Best wishes and greetings from Germany

Thanks to Klaus for these photos. He has sent lots more, which I’ll add to the site asap.

Name: Gill Boys
Show: Tunbridge Wells
Review: Just think for a moment and then ask yourself  what did I like 30 years ago and still like as much today? For me probably the only answer is Don McLean.  Why?  Well Ive changed a lot in 30 years but in some ways have remained constant and that for me is Don McLean, changing, evolving, developing on the one hand and yet a constant part of life on the other.

Ive lost count of how many times Ive see him in concert but each time is different and exciting.  I cant say the Assembly Rooms at Tunbridge is my favourite choice of venue, certainly sitting waiting for Don to come on
stage it felt more like sitting in sports hall.  Once he took to the stage it was like riding on the crest of a wave and I experienced every emotion before reaching the shore.  Maybe Baby, Everyday, Crying, Jerusalem,
Winterwood, Empty Chairs, Tulsa Time, Castles in the Air, American Pie, we all have our favourites, mine change from day to day. New songs, old songs but songs all delivered with passion.

There have been comments about the band being loud.  In fact the guy sitting next to me, turned to me in the interval and asked, youre obviously a big Don McLean fan? (Dont know how he worked that out! ) Does he only play rock now? What happened to his quiet songs?  Wait, I assured.

In Tunbridge Wells, we rocked, we listened with awe, we partied, and we all got up to dance, even my doubting neighbour! We enjoyed every aspect of that truly marvellous experience which is Don McLean live in concert.

Thanks Don, 30 years on and youre still better than chocolate!
Name: Gary Moore
Show: Tunbridge Wells
Review: It is always worrying when you go to see an inspirational singer/songwriter live years after you first heard his songs. Will he live up to expectations or will your vision be destroyed forever? Well, after seeing Don McLean at Tunbridge Wells I can tell you he has still got it. Although i found the backing band too loud , the songs Don played alone or accompanied by piano were, and still are, inspirational. Also to see the pleasure Don got out of playing his standards (and why not)made it better still , he really deserved his can of Guinness afterwards . Now where  did I put that guitar!
Name: James Chinaloy
Show: Tunbridge Wells 18/5/03
Review: There we all were gathered at the Tunbridge Wells Assembly Rooms to listen to the music we had heard years before.  Thirty years on when Don McLean first burst onto the British music scene, he can still pack a venue, no mean feat in itself.  The concert itself is a mixture of old standards and new material, but like all fans we would have been content with the old favourites and familiar tunes.  Don’s backing musicians gave excellent support also giving them a forum to show their individual skills however, the music really came alive and captivated his audience when he reverted to his accoustic guitar and a single backing instrument.  The case in point a really sweet rendition of “Starry Starry Night”. Everybody was just waiting for the classic, with the first few chords we were all up like at a gospel meeting to put our hands together and belt out “American Pie” along with the young boy !  Don asked his audience 2 questions:- 1. What is music now ?  A: it is just a product.  2. Rhetorical question, can the old man still do it ? A: of course, long may
we hear the music.
Name: Philip Godliman
Show: Tunbridge Wells
Review: I’m afraid to say that for the first time in our lives we left a show half way through!  We’ve been fans of Don Maclean for many years and enjoyed a concert of his in Dartford some years ago.  Why did we leave? We couldn’t hear his brilliant voice and guitar playing because it was drowned out by the cacophony produced by the backing group.  It’s a great shame that such a wonderful singer songwriter has to resort to an overproduced and horrendous performance.  The only really enjoyable part of the first half of the show was when the backing group left the stage and left Don alone to perform in his traditional way.  The reason why, for example, Eva Cassidy and Nora Jones have gained such wide acclaim is because of the purity and untainted performance of their music.

We looked forward so much to the concert but were upset and disappointed because we couldn’t hear him sing – even Winter Wood and Jerusalem (2 of our favourite songs) were masacred.
Name: Ken, Frances and Debi
Show: Tunbridge Wells Sunday 18th May
Review: A faultless and brilliant concert at Tunbridge Wells last night, Sunday 18th May, ended with your song about Diana which did not do justice to your great writing talent. We hope we are not the only ones to mention this- Please do not be offended as we do love ya! Thank you for singing ‘Winterwood’ and ‘The Very Thought of You’. We are chasing you to Leicester on Sunday and would love to hear Mountains of Mourne, Bells of Rhymney, and That’s Allright Mama, with the band, as they are also superb. Also Don- where’s your banjo these days?Are you ever going to bring it out again?!Please!
Name: Lyndon Brown
Show: Tunbridge Wells
Review: Another great evening with the man who brings such a fine use of the english language and such eloquence to his songs. The highlight as ever was the most beautiful song ever written and once again I wept throughout ‘Empty Chairs’. Don said we inspired him last night and we certainly made him welcome !! However that was in return for the inspiration your songs have provided throughout my life. For them and you I am truly grateful.
Name: Neville Morley
Show: Tunbridge Wells
Review: Dear Mr. Mclean. It has been the greatest of pleasure to be enjoy a fabulous evening of your songs and music at Tunbridge Wells this last evening. Your performance has been a joy to behold and thank you and your musicians for allowing us to witness such talent.

May I wish you a successful tour and look forward to your return to these shores.
Name: Fadzilah Amin  (Fuzzy)
Show: Tunbridge Wells
Review: It was absolutely full house at the Assembly Hall Theatre in this genteel English spa town.  Although there was a fair proportion of young people in the audience, the predominant hair colour was grey. Don was dressed in black: a plain black shirt with a row of silvery buttons up each cuff, and black trousers. He and his band looked a bit tired after playing on consecutive nights in Glasgow and Horrogate, but gave us a superb performance nevertheless, from 7.30 pm to 9.55 pm, forty minutes beyond the advertised closing time.

Nearly half of the 27 songs Don sang last night were sung in an upbeat rollicking tempo and style, which the twentysomethings in my party enjoyed very much.  Those were the three opening numbers: Maybe Baby, Everyday, and La La Love You, as well as the later Tulsa Time/Deep in the Heart of Texas, Little Sister, Lotta Loving, Fashion Victim and Headroom. Even Winterwood sounded somewhat upbeat, as did Dreidel.  If at all I have a complaint, it is that the music sounded a bit too loud and drowned out many of the words of the comic and satirical songs. This may have been partly due to the sound system (at one point Don jocularly muttered about the “viagra microphone!) and partly due to sheer delight in sound and rhythm on the part of the performers.

In contrast, there were some really quietly moving renditions, especially of Empty Chairs (sung solo), Vincent, Crossroads, And I Love You So, Jerusalem, and The Very Thought of You. ‘Crying’ began quietly, with minimal accompaniment, and worked up to an impressive crescendo of voice and band at the end. I was delighted to hear Bronco Bill’s Lament and If We Try live (this was only my second concert), each with slightly altered lyrics.  Castles in the Air was also particularly well sung, as was Wonderful Baby, which many members of the audience were humming as they left the theatre.

A song I was very interested to hear is the new “Run, Diana, Run”, with which Don and his band ended the show. It was inspired, I believe, by the Princess Diana phenomenon.  Don prefaced the song by speaking about people who were “prisoners of virtual reality”. The song had a pulsating rhythm, with a sense of urgency throughout, suggestive of flight and pursuit.  I couldn’t catch all the words clearly, but among the lines are:-

They like to feed on fantasy
Like lions feed on meat
Photography can kill you
The camera is their gun

It would be good to have this song in an album of new Don songs, so that we could figure out better the relationship between its words and its mesmeric rhythm.

The following were the songs sung in TW in chronological order:

Maybe Baby
La La Love You
If We Try
And I Love You So
Empty Chairs
Bronco Bill’s Lament
Billy the Kid
Tulsa Time/Deep in the Heart of Texas
Little Sister
Lotta Loving
Superman’s Ghost
Fashion Victim
The Very Thought of You
American Pie
A 1930’s song (very nice but couldn’t catch its name)
Castles in the Air
Wonderful Baby
Promise to Remember
Run, Diana, Run

Name: Tony Hughes
Show: Tunbridge Wells 18th May 2003
And I love Don so …….. Dear Don, I have seen you perform many times over the span of our lives so far ….. in London on several occasions …… at The Royal Festival Hall, The Albert Hall, The Dominion …… Dartford at the Orchard ….. Brighton at the Dome …… Cambridge at the Folk Festival …..and many more times in my dreams as I sang along with you listening to my collection of your recordings originally on vinyl ….. and now replaced by CD’s.

But tonight was the first time we met in a nightmare.  I am still stunned … and have vowed never again to venture in to the Assembly Halls in Tunbridge Wells.

The sound system was dismal ….. and I think struggles to cope with poor acoustics in the hall ….. the musicians backing you were too loud too loud too loud…… and whilst no doubt brilliant in their own field only served to distract from your vocal abilities … and the subleties, interest, joy and love in your lyrics.

There seemed to be a problem with your microphone as each time you strayed the slightest distance from it your voice was drowned by the overpowering disjointed noise from behind.

One of my favourite songs …. Castles in the Air …. was destroyed by the backing …… and I commented at the time to my lovely wife Annette that ” if I had a gun I would have happily shot the drummer “…  before the song reached its end.

I could not hear the lyrics of the final song about Diana and photographers …. and no doubt it has a deep meaning and is well meant ….. but it was not well received by many of the audience.

Thank goodness for the occasional songs slipped in to the set … Crossroads …. Empty chairs …. and the like …. where your superb individual abilities sang direct to my soul and set my nerves and emotions jangling as many times in the past. These at least took me back to wonderful times…. such as the RAH where I sat a few seats from the stage and you towered above me ….. bringing in turn tears to my eyes …. smiles to my face and set my brain a ticking …. or when you took the stage at Cambridge after Sonny Terry and Brownie Mcghee had brought the whole site to their feet ….. and within a few notes you seized the momentum ….and took our delight in your music to an even higher pitch.

Happy Days indeed and I look forward to seeing you perform as well again in the future ….. but not of course in Tunbridge Wells

Much respect …. and many thanks …. for the joy and company of your music over the years ….. right now I am off to the CD player and my headphones …. to put Castles in the Air back in my heart where it belongs.
Name: Jackie Flynn
Show: Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells
Review: A sell-out concert. If you missed it, you really missed out! My first Don Mclean concert – |I was surprised that Don came on stage at 7.30 and stayed there for 2 1/2 hrs (apart from a short break). No warm up act-just Don and his band. And what great musicians they were. Best of all, they looked as if they were having FUN! The audience was eating out of his hand and we were ALL having fun. We joined in singing American Pie and stood up and clapped and didn’t want it to end. The old familiar songs were there as well as some great new ones. At the end I wanted to do it all again. Come back soon, Don Mclean.
Name: Jenina B Pendry
Show: Tunbridge Wells
Review: Vincent was a classic. ‘The Very Thought of You’ is the best version of the song I’ve heard. And ‘Diana’ showed a social senisbility that hasn’t lost its edge. A great evening of great musical talent and social commentary — a rare, if not unique, combination.

Harrogate concert – fan reviews

Name: Annie
Show: Nidd Hall, Harrogate
Review: To write a review of Dons concert at Nidd has provoked so many emotions it’s hard to know where to start.
The anticipation of knowing that I’m am going to see Don is almost too hard to bear I can’t sleep can’t eat for the excitement it’s a lovely feeling.

The day dawned wet and miserable for my friend and I to travel over 150 miles to see Don [wow it was worth it].It continued to rain incessantly all day and Don commented on our british weather, but nothing can dampen my spirits where Don is involved. Don thanked his british fans for their unconditional support over the years which was lovely to hear so thanks Don. I had looked forward to the venue as it is small and whilst I was lucky enough to have a front row seat and be about 20 foot from Don.

The less said about the stage,lighting and the general handling of this brilliant man the better, it makes me sad,Nidd Hall did not deserve Don .

I am always on a huge emotional high when I see Don as soon as he comes on stage I ‘m hooked and it stays with me for along time after. For the Fashion Victims out there yes he did sing it he was wearing black boots black trousers and a fabulous blue shirt edged with silver which took me back to thefirst timeI saw Don in 73,any way he looked wonderful. I couldn’t possibly list all he sang but we had two havles which were about 2 hours in total. Death by Photography a new song was most poignant.Empty Chairs reduced me to tears as it was Don on his own Crossraods as always was fantasic with just Tony and Don.Wish I could have Tony playing the piano in my house.Dons voice continues to reach depths of me no other singer does and I know never will.

Don showed so much pleasure in performing with his band they compliment him well and obviously have alot fun working together,singing Living on Tulsa Time, Supermans Ghost, Bronco Bills Lametn and many Buddy songs which Don always shows pleasure in playing.Don joked withhis band about putting on costumes as apparently back stage consisted of rails of costumes and not alot else.

When he sang You’re my little darlin he glowed with pride so thanks Don for sharing your joy and contentment about being a father.I’m only sorry that I’ve never been able to see Don perform with his children but I love the new CD.

American Pie had us on our feet as always and we sang our hearts out but as Don went off the entertainments manager was on the floor thanking Don and talking about the dancing that was about to start yuk and the magic was lost no encore where did that entertaiments guy come from? all the band seemed confused and then Kery Marx stepped forward and took my red rose [something I’ve always taken for Don] to give Don and said to me he’d make sure he got it so thanks Kery for being so kind, so a very abrupt end ruined by the hotel.

Alot of people waited to see Don as we has been told he would be out to greet fans sign .We waited with excitement and anticipation to be suddenly told over the pa system that Don was unwell and would not be out to meet us.I was just so disappointed but hoped Don was not too unwell to complete the tour.

Afterwards a gentleman approached my friend and I asking if one of us was Annie from North Wales well that was me.The gentleman turned out to be Neil Wyatt another of Dons fans who I have met only on Dons web site.With Neil we went to one of the lounges and Neil serenaded us with some of Dons songs and his own .I have never been serenaded before personally like that and it was beautiful.Two other fanatic fans of Dons also came in whilst Neil sang and we had a great time talking about Don, I’m sorry that I can’t remeber their names but they will know who they are. As always though I think I have to say despite the events that Don had no control over,the band were brilliant and Don you were pure magic so thank you so so much for coming and I hope the rest of the tour is brilliant.
Name: Wayne Denton
Show: Nidd Hall, Harrogate
Review: A truly superb concert by Don topped by the fact that he very kindly met with me before the show to sign my Don McLean American Pie Guitar.( He played it a little and seemed very proud to have been involved with the designing of the guitar. When asked to sign it he at first refused as he said there is no way he could deface such a beautiful guitar in any way. After much persuasion he did however sign for me near the machine heads on the back at the top of the neck!!!) He was also kind enough to have photographs of me with him holding my guitar. He also gave me a well used signed Don Mclean plectrum which he had obviously used in previous concerts. I also had a good long chat with Dons band and what agreat bunch of lads they seemed. Cheers Don and good luck with the rest of the tour....A fellow Artist.. WD

Name: Neil Wyatt
Show: Harrogate
This is about the smallest venue I have ever seen Don perform in over the past 25 years. The venue is a splendid luxury hotel, set in beautiful grounds, just a shame it was such a wet day.

To watch the show you either had to be a resident or have dinner. Living little more than an hours drive from the venue, dinner seemed the best option, so table for one at 8.30pm it was.

I arrived at about 8.15pm and made my way to the restaurant, in a lovely room looking out to the gardens just before the  restaurant. My understanding was that the performance, which was held in the Pavilion Bar, a fair way from the restaurant wasnt to start until 10pm, so the fact that my meal did not arrive until 9pm I thought was not a problem. At about 9.40pm I made my way to the concert area only to find Don finishing Crying and with that the first half of his performance!

I asked at the bar what time the performance started, to be told nine O clock!

Missing the first part of Dons performance, I lost the heart to note all of Dons remaining songs for the evening, Id missed the first half so it was just a case enjoying what was left and that I did.

While Don may not have been in as strong a voice as he was in the opening Derby concert, his vocals were still in good form and gave an excellent second half, that much I can testify to.

The second half started with a country type song Im not certain I have heard before and then went into a couple of songs backed only by Tony on his Roland keyboard. There was no room for even a Baby Grand Piano on this stage, but Tony got the sound as near as dam it for my tone-deaf ears. These two songs then, were the old Ray Noble song; The very thought of you followed by Cross Roads.  Both of these songs were performed superbly with lots of feeling. Like at Derby, Don performed a Solo Empty Chairs which I
m certain those who followed Dons shows in the Solo (Pre 1980) days would appreciate. With reference to this song, Don spoke about his invitation to perform on a Garth Brooks show, who is also a big Don fan, we gather.

Don did more talking than usual in my experience of his shows on this occasion, though Im always happy to hear what he has to say. Like Derby, Don said that his career in the US was very good at this time but that he was grateful for the support he has always had in the UK. On the subject of the recent troubles in the Gulf, Don was asked if he was going to crap out and cancel but said he was just going to keep going. Remember, Don played in Dublin and Belfast 31st October/1st November 2001.

Don mentioned his childrens album and sang a song he wrote when his daughter was small, sorry I cant remember the tittle but it was followed by Wonderful Baby.

Back to the talk; Don said there was snow back home in Maine until about a month ago when it then just kept on raining, so he came over here & guess what! More rain! Until he met his Wife 17 years ago Dons excuse to go on tours was to sh*g babes, though Im sure he didnt really mean that. Anyway, the punch line was that the only reason he takes babes phone numbers now is to ask them
to baby sit.

Don asked for a beer while on stage and I think he was given two or three. Among the songs that followed, these included Fashion Victim (Dark trousers, black long sleeves shirt with green shapes on the collar and a silver line over the two breast pockets, sorry, again I missed the foot ware). There was a song about Princess Diana; it might have been called Run Diana ? Anyway, the song was about photographers intruding into celebritys lives. There was a slow song which I think was called Will you remember. Another brilliant version of Castles in the Air went down well with the audience, which I would put at a near capacity, give or take about 250.

Don finished on American Pie, which brought people previously content to stand at the bar behind me, down to watch and even wiggle their bodies about. As is usual these days, Don repeated the Chorus and first verse. A funny thing happened during the last throws of Pie: A man walked up to the stage to shake Dons hand, ever heard of a one handed guitarist? Anyway a standing ovation said to me that the audience were satisfied and all that remained was for Don to come out and sign the programs and Starry Starry
Night CDs that were on sale. About 15 minutes later the MC announced that Don had been taken ill and would therefore not be available to put his signature to the merchandise to the great disappointment of those remaining, self included. Though to
be fair, I was lucky enough to meet Don in Derby as well as at other times in the past.

I summary, in a second half which lasted an hour I enjoyed the show very much. Thankfully the volume picked up or at least seemed to in the last 30 minutes, before that the noise from the bar was in conflict with the performance from where I was seated, by the same token, I sincerely hope that the beer was not in conflict with Dons health.

The band were superb as always and of course a pleasure to listen too. Following the announcement that Don would not be signing anything I quickly found Annie from North Wales both with her friend who Id never met before the day and we had a nice little chat. We went to the quiet room where I had seen Don earlier, and following a few photos I played a few songs with the baby guitar I brought with me and that was about it. For the record, Annie told me that Don did play And I Love You So in the first session but on this occasion there was no Vincent. Just perhaps, as so often is the case, Don had meant to save this for an encore but never
quite made it; just a thought.

Name: Jackie Mathews
Show: Nidd Hall
Enjoyed Nidd Hall’s Premier Starbreak starring Don McLean more than any other. An honour to see a legend perform live and I was lucky enough to get front row seats.

Name: Anne Leslie
Show: Nidd Hall, Harrogate
What a pleasurable evening. This was my fifth Don McLean concert and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Don accomponaied by his excellent musicians. A good mix of songs that I knew, including Wonderful Baby (mmy favourite), Empty Chairs, Crossroads, Winterwood, Bronco Bills Lament, Everyday, Crying. And I Love You So, American Pie. However Where was Vincent (sob…).? LOved listening to Don talk about his songs and experiences with Garth Brooks, his luddite views on the Internet, but his success in retrieiving from a Internet pirate! Wonderful Baby is now advertising a French gasoline company (lol). Hilarious when Donasked for a beer resulting in a succession of drinks being deposited on stage. Less funny the people moving towards the stage as Don sang. His guitarist mpved forward just in case. Suspect a guitar is an effective weapon. I’m not this venue is best for Don. I was shocked at him eing introduced as the cabaret act and know Don would hate this. This is a very famous and popular  star and deserves a proper venue in one of the locasl towns/cities. Not the  venue for Claire Sweeney, Jim Davidson and Bob Monkshouse et al… Apalled that hotel announcer spoke over the top of the American Pie ovation. Maybe the reason for no encore. For no Vincent (sob sob). The audueince though very full were sometimes verring towards silence. Prompting Don to ask if we were dead or breathing! Very funny but I think a point was being made. Sensibly no trademark singalong. No This Little Light. I yearn to see Don again on this tour.

Glasgow concert – fan reviews

Name: david leckie
Show: pavilion in glasgow
Review: The backing group were far too loud for my wife and I, to hear Don McLean properly at first, especially as we were upstairs. We still enjoyed and were moved by Mr McLeans performance, I think the fans enjoy the quieter numbers but never mind please,please come back to glasgow again-we all love and respect you very much.

Name: peter griffin
Show: pavilion theatre Glasgow
Review: Some dodgy sound on the first two songs threatened to spoil things, but a steely stare from Don soon had things back on track.Judging by audience reaction the extended American Pie is very popular but personally I feel Don is dumbing down his great Opus.I cant complain about a 2 hour set but no Castles in the Air was disappointing!I suppose there just was’nt enough Prime Time to fit it in.

Derby concert – fan reviews

Name: Neil Wyatt
Show: Derby
Review: Don McLeans 31st UK Anniversary Tour

At the Assembly Rooms Derby on the 14th May 2003

For those short of reading time, here are a few points of the evening before going into detail:

* A program was available priced at 5 each and Don was available at the end of the show to sign them, it seemed that most of the audience took this opportunity judging by the length of the queue after the show.

*Regarding the fashion report: Don was wearing a plain black long sleeved shirt and black jeans; sorry I couldnt see his footwear.

*Don was in very good voice and hit all the right notes in a concert divided into two parts, the first part lasting around fifty minutes and the second part a shade over an hour, so good value all round. 25 numbers performed in total.

*The sound quality of the venue was very good indeed save for a couple of minor feed backs, but nothing serious, and I would estimate the floor space was around 95% full; however the side balconies perhaps only 50% (see the floor plan for details.)

The band was the same proficient four musicians Don has performed with for the past few years (although Tony has been supporting Don on stage the longest) with the addition of new guitarist to this set up, Kery Marx. For the guitar buffs Kery looked to be playing a sunburst Fender Stratocaster while Pat has swapped his Gibson Les Paul for a dark red Fender Telecaster with a white scratch board.

The performance started at just a couple of minutes past the scheduled 8pm start with the announcement of: After the performance Mr McLean will sign programs in the foyer. Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome Don McLean.  Don then came onto the stage, plugged in his Martin guitar and started the performance with what now seems to be the regular opener – Buddy Holly song Maybe Baby (I wonder what happened to Magdalene Lane and Its Just the Sun?).  Next was Everyday, both of these songs were sung with lots of energy, so the scene was set for a super show. Winterwood was followed by a perfect And I Love You So, I dont think Ive been to a Don McLean concert where this song has not been performed which gives strength to the saying practice makes perfect. Apart from the proverbial end of show cheers, this song got the loudest cheer of the night. Don said You are a very good audience and its great because this is a good hall with great sound. Don went on to introduce the band, on the piano Tony Migliore,  Kery Marks on the guitar, Ralph Childs on the bass, Pat Severs on the guitar and Jerry Kroon on the drums. Don said that doing this for quit a few years was still fun. Accompanied only by piano, Don went on to sing The Very Thought of You and Crossroads. Back to the band with La La La La Love You with Don hitting all the right notes an octave or two up: magic!

Then it was straight into Jerusalem followed by the regular sing along This Little Light of Mine which was also the bands opportunity to shine; each individually giving a solo. Yes that magic word, “SOLO.” A slow country song called Promise to Remember followed which I enjoyed, though it was a shame about a minor sound feedback though nothing serious.  This song suited the fender sound coming from the two guitars. This sound could only be improved by a single 000-28 amplified straight through an open microphone! Next was Crying, again, all the high notes reached and it was great to see Don pick the intro on his guitar. It makes such a difference to the feeling of the whole song. In Florida last January Don strummed his way through the intro; not the same thing at all. The first half finished with Tulsa Time.

The second period opened with the old Elvis number Little Sister  followed by Lotta Lovin.’ From here it was straight into a museum (the old ones are the best..bum bum) In a Museum. The next song I only heard for the first time last January (03) Which begins with the words Have you Seen Me. It is very guitar dominated, perhaps a little heavy and gives reference to a lot of conflict areas in the world. Maybe this is Dons way of keeping the notion of his song the Grave alive and also Dylans Masters of War comes to mind here also (see the Solo double album). Keeping on the heavy theme I thought the next number for a surprise was going to be the Stones’ Satisfaction, but in fact it was about Princess Diana. Diana Run? The man who shouted American Pie early in the show finally got his wish. Sometimes I feel that this is all that a large proportion of contemporary audiences want to hear and yet Don has so many songs to his credit Im certain many of us would rather hear for a change. Now wasnt it Don who said way back when that Ill continue to go and do what I want, Ill let the music take me where it wants to – Its never let me down. (The Songs of Don McLean Vol 1. 1972 P 112)  As is usual of recent years, Don played an extra portion of Pie to keep the audience happy and gained an appropriate loud cheer at the end of what must have been a near ten minute song. Now thats what I call stamina.

At this point a chair placed at the front of the stage and Don continued seated. Vincent was performed next which I know would have pleased the lady I was talking to prior to the show immensely. Then into Drop E mode for Castles in the Air, this was perfect except that the drumming, I felt, was far too heavy for this number. One of my highlights of the evening came next as Don performed Empty Chairs solo. Im certain the old time McLeanies appreciated that one; I certainly did. Accompanied only by Ralph on Bass Don played his guitar Flat Picking instrumental Ive heard him do once or twice before. The show finished as it began with an Elvis number Thats alright Mama to a hand clapping audience. The band played Don out but the hand clapping continued and got faster until Don came back on stage. Don said something like who says British audiences are tough! (Don remained standing.) We were then treated to that old Hank Williams classic Love Sick Blues – yaho^oooooooo! Even after almost an hour of continuous singing Don still managed all the right notes on this difficult song to sing. Not a bum note in the whole setFantastic.

The performance ended with Stardust and that concluded a superb show and great value, what more could one ask for? The only thing to do now was to ask Don if he would sign my banjo as well as my poster and program. Oh, and also have a chat with Dejay.

I decided to let everyone else get their things signed first, as I didnt want to hold things up with me carrying a banjo about. Don saw me waiting with my banjo and called me the banjo man: imagine that! Don calling me the banjo man, Im honoured, glad he didnt ask me to play it though or he may have taken those words back! Before Don left I told him that I really enjoyed the solo Empty Chairs – just like old times; to which Don said, Were going to do more of that Solo stuff. Cant wait! Fantastic Evening, we must do it again.

Name: Dejay
Show: Derby
Review: Don and his band took this show off to a brilliant start and did indeed appear to be surprised by the very enthusiastic reception as he greeted the audience. This being the first gig of the tour, it seemed that Don had, over the last 3 years, almost forgotten the way in which British audiences still, after over 30 years of performing, receive him as an old friend dropping by and not just as a performing artist. He gave the impression that the prime motive for this tour was to come and see us, rather than just to let us see him perform. If any ’70s Don-fans had assumed that much of the intimacy and warmth that he radiated from the stage during those days had dwindled due to the band being with him, they would have been proved wrong within the first 5 seconds of this show. There were no empty seats up front as I can recall and the rear of the theatre was filled to roughly 80 percent. Derby is geographically isolated and rural in comparison to somewhere like Manchester, which unfortunately wasn’t included this time, so that could be part of the reason for those empty seats (if it had been in Manchester, I’m sure it would have been a sell-out). Don’s voice was in top form as usual, which he repeatedly proves by including songs like “Crying” and “Lovesick Blues”. It’s just a pity that it was often drowned out by Pat Severs’ rather piercing, though excellent lead guitar playing.

Set List:
Maybe Baby
And I love You So (the best version I’ve ever heard!)
The Very Thought Of You
Crossroads (Tony really shined on this one)
La La Love You (would have preferred Tangled or Homeless Brother from that album)
This Little Light (a real gem for getting the audience in the mood)
Promise To Remember
Crying (how does he do it?!)
Tulsa Time / Deep In The Heart of Texas
(20 minute break)
Little Sister (don’t know why he seems to never miss that one)
Lotta Lovin’
In A Museum
Have You Seen Me (sound engineer should have been sent home at this point – lead guitar much too loud!)
Run Diana Run (Nice melody, a bit like “Headroom”, but couldn’t hear the lyrics for the lead guitar)
AP (I needed a drink, a shower and a lie-down afterwards – simply brilliant!)
Vincent (need I say more..?)
Castles In The Air (I just love that bassy “dropped D” on this guitar – and Don’s guitar-playing is a symphony on its own in this song)
Empty Chairs ( the nucleus of the whole show in my opinion – killed us all very softly!)
Flat-picking (Doc Watson would have paid for his Guinness all night and Chet would have made him a CGP – Stunning!)
That’s Alright Mama
Lovesick Blues (nobody does it like our Don!)

Don then came out to the foyer to sign programs…and one or two CD covers:) accompanied by a well-earned pint of Guinness. Thank you Don, for what was yet another unforgettable experience. It’s good to know that we can still go to concerts like yours and listen to real music and by doing so, for a little while, escape the non-melodious humbug that has been invading our lives these past years. Please come back soon!!!

Other photos supplied by Dejay:

Name: Kathleen Robinson
Show: Derby
Review: Not a full review – but just to say we had wonderful night. I wish the concert could have been longer and included all my favourites. I thought it was a very good venue, with a good view of the stage. Only complaint? The ice cream I bought in the interval was too hard to eat!

Name: Christopher Clark
Show: Derby Assembly Rooms
Just enjoyed a brilliant evening at Derby Assembly rooms watching Don Mclean and his excellent Musicians in concert. Fantastic entertainment. The best evening out I have had for a very long time. Thanks.

Name: Wendy Haynes
Show: Derby Assembly Rooms
Review: I was fortunate to get the first two seats sold for this performance – being at the booking office the morning it opened.  This meant we could have great seats on the front row!  It was an excellent experience.  Don is such a charismatic singer – at very very best when delivering his own words and music. The mix and range of songs, including my particular favourites, gave total enjoyment.  Thanks also to the everyone in the band for their contribution. Don’s music, words and delivery are unique and, in my opinion, cannot be bettered by any other performer.
Name: Mike Armitt
Show: Derby 14th May 2003
Review: What a fantastic evening’s entertainment!
No one could have been disappointed whatsoever – considering today’s manufactured music it was great to have a singalong with ‘American Pie’ and ‘This Little Light of Mine’. Mind you I can remember in the 50s and 60s parents saying, “This rock ‘n’ roll stuff won’t last!!”
The ‘voice’ is as good as it was, even though the ‘legs’ are not what they used to be!
Next time Don comes can include Gordon Lightfoot’s “If I Could Read Your Mind,” as he sings it in a different style to Gordon’s but just as well.
Cheers and best wishes.
Name: anne carter
Show: assembly rooms derby may 14th
Review: A fine mixture of songs & styles including Buddy Holly, Elvis, country, ballads & rock. Thrilled that my personal favourite “Crossroads” was played early on with a brilliant Tony Migliore on piano. A central, front row seat gave superb views and sound from the whole band. We’re all mostly 30 years older Don, so understand your need to sit down a while!!

Years ago, I decided that “Crossroads” will be played at my funeral for friends to mourn, but they’ll rock on out of the crematoreum to “American Pie!”
Name: Geoff
Show: Derby
Don McLean put on a great show here in Derby last night. He performed for 2.5 hours (including a 20 minute break). The show was really in 3 parts. He started with two Buddy Holly songs (Maybe Baby and Everyday) and went through 55 mins of material including And I Love You So, La La Love You, Jerusalem, Crying, Tulsa Time, Deep in the Heart of Texas, The Very Thought of You, Winterwood and Crossroads. He also did a slow, country song that he said was only 9 months olds. The second half was pure rock and roll, starting with Little Sister (?), Lotta Lovin and including two new songs In The Museum and Death by Photography. He sang Have You Seen Me and quickly moved into an extended version of American Pie. At this point the second half looked slightly perfunctory with non of the usual chat between songs and no solo guitar work. However, anyone expecting to be disappointed were soon put right as Don sat down and sang Vincent, Castles in the Air and Empty Chairs. He did some great guitar picking with Ralph Childs and finished with That’s Alright. A standing ovation and lots of feet stamping later, Don re-emerged on stage to do Lovesick Blues and Stardust as his encore. Another standing ovation. This was a near full house (only a few cheaper, side seats left) and a loud and enthusiastic crowd. It seemed Don was slightly surprised (but delighted) by his reception. This was a very memorable concert, especialliy for the people who’d made requests, all of which seemed to be honoured. The band was terrific. It’s great to see Don in this musical setting.

After the show Don spent 40 minutes signing autographs and posing for photos. A word for the site producer and author of the souvenir brochure – brilliant work, an enthralling account of Don’s career. Also on sale (for order) was the Starry Starry Night CD but no children’s album. Don looked fantastic and listening to his voice it was hard to believe we were sitting there in 2003, not 1973. I now plan to snap up tickets for my other’local’ shows in Birmingham, Leicester and Northampton. Thanks Don for a magic evening.

Name: Tom Stuart
Show: Derby 14th May

Review: If Don McLean was disappointed at the cancellation of the London date then he did not show it in a set lasting nearly 2 hours which gave the Derby audience a fantastic showcase of his musical and creative talents.

All the hits were there including his most enthusiastic rendition of American Pie that I have heard in following his concerts for 30 years. A funky instrumental bridge was included in ” Pie” with an extra helping of verse one after the song was finished to allow for further crowd participation!

“Jerusalem” which is ever topical was delivered with passion and vigour and Don’s voice on “Crying” took me back twenty years. Two new songs “In a Museum” and “Run Diana Run” were vintage Mclean and I look forward to the studio versions.

For the first time ever in concert I watched Don take a seat, as befits his golden mellowness, to deliver “Vincent” and “Castles” in the Air” and his flat picking bluegrass instrumental with bassist Ralph Childs rolled back the years to when he enthralled us with a banjo. Don Mclean is back and is effortlessly the  class act as he ever was. Don’t miss this tour!