Don McLean News
Cerritos Concert Review - Wednesday, March 30, 2005 at 12:46
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW, IN CERRITOS
A review by Tony & Fuzzy
Don gave his first US concert of 2005 on a pleasantly warm evening in Cerritos, near LA, in the city’s beautifully modern Performing Arts Centre. Stephen Bishop (of “On and On” and “Tootsie’s theme” fame) was the opening act. The musicians that accompanied Don were the same ones he had for the 2004 World Tour, ie Tony Migliore (keyboards), Pat Severs (guitars), Ralph Childs (bass guitar) and Jerry Kroon (drums).
Don took to the stage, wearing a black shirt, flower trims on cuffs and collar, and black pants. Being nowadays somewhat a creature of habit, he started off with “Maybe Baby”, followed by “Fool’s Paradise”, and the ever-present “La La Love You”. He seemed a little ‘hung over’ from perhaps shovelling too much snow in wintry Maine, and the long trip south from Canada. But he really began to come to life on the fourth song, “You’re My Little Darlin’ ”. He worked a lovely guitar duet with Pat who brilliantly recreated Chet Atkins’ role in the album version. After that, he said he was going to play a couple of songs from the American Pie album. “Winterwood” sounded exceptionally good and Don was smiling as Pat got into his groove with his Sunburst Epiphone Elitist guitar. Tony Migliore really shone again on “Crossroads”.
Next, Don said he was going to do a pop standard and sang the lovely Rodgers and Hart song, “If I Could Write a Book”. At this point he assured the audience that he was not on steroids, making a reference to the baseball steroid scandal in the US, a recurring theme in his subsequent comments throughout the evening. Don’s own pop standard, “And I Love You So”, came next. The band were then featured brilliantly in Danny Flowers’ “Tulsa Time” and Geraint Watkins’ version of “Deep in the Heart of Texas”.
“Superman’s Ghost” and “Jerusalem” followed and then, we heard a powerful rendition of “Have You Seen Me”, with some really biting guitar sounds from Pat. This was the first time we heard Don sing this song live. We felt that Don was making indirect social commentary in choosing the last two songs, and indeed there was a response to the latter from a child sitting behind us, who remarked: “It’s true, Mom!”
“Crying” came next and then we were treated to a brand new Don song, “The Three of Us”, sung from the point of view of an American Indian, and speaking of changes and the passage of time. Among the words we managed to catch were:
The Indians lie in holy ground
A place my parents now have found…
Their names are carved for all to see
But no one knows their names but me
I remember in that picture
My life had just begun
Now the three of us are fading fast
In an Indian sun
This is an interesting new Don song that we can hopefully all look forward to hearing on his forthcoming album of originals. This could well be his new “Vincent”, which was coincidentally followed by a nice version of his old “Vincent”.
Then Don spoke a little bit of his early life and how he used to travel as a teenager from New Rochelle to Greenwich Village to listen to great Blues artists like Josh White, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. He then said he had a request to perform a song that someone in the audience had first heard him sing 30 years ago at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Don beckoned Ralph to join him and they proceeded to play three great Josh White numbers: “Where Were You Baby”, “Uncle Sam Says” and “Gonna Live the Life”.
He then announced, to great applause, that he was going to play the Madonna hit, “American Pie” for which he got a standing ovation, followed by the now obligatory reprise. To our pleasant surprise, this did not end the show.
“Fashion Victim” was next and then we were treated to a much improved “Addicted to Black” which Don and the band had really worked on. The lyrics, accentuated by some cheeky band responses, brought some smiles to the audience.
Don rocked again with the double-header “Headroom” and “Dreidel”. Then, Pat, “shining like [his] national guitar”, donned his dobro and we were treated to some really vintage Don singing, with “The Reckless Hobo”, “Boots and Saddles” and “My Saddle Pal and I”. Requests were being shouted from the audience after these and Don responded by singing the final song of the night, “Castles in the Air”. In farewell, he said it would be a while before he would be back again, if at all. Retirement from touring did not seem far from his mind. Let’s hope that he was just feeling a little tired as the midnight hour beckoned.
1. Maybe Baby
2. Fool’s Paradise
3. La La love You
4. You’re My Little Darlin’
7. I Could Write a Book
8. And I Love You So
9. Tulsa Time
10. Deep in the Heart of Texas
11. Superman’s Ghost
13. Have You Seen Me
15. The Three of Us
17. Where Were You Baby
18. Uncle Sam Says
19. Gonna Live the Life
20. American Pie
21. American Pie reprise
22. Fashion Victim
23. Addicted to Black
26. The Reckless Hobo
27. Boots and Saddles
28. My Saddle Pie and I
29. Castles in the Air
I Could Write a Book
(by Rodgers & Hart)
If they ask me, I could write a book
About the way you walk, and whisper and look
I could write a preface on how we met
So the world would never forget
And the simple secret of the plot
Is just to tell them that I love you a lot
Then the world discovers as my book ends
How to make two lovers friends
The Reckless Hobo (Bummin’ an old Freight Train)
(from a poem by Richard D. Burrett)
My pocket-book was empty
My heart was filled with pain
I’m a thousand miles from home
Bummin’ a railroad train
I was standing on the platform
And smoking a cheap cigar
I was waiting for a freight train
That carried an empty car
I hopped off at Danville
I got stuck on a Danville girl
You can bet your life she’s out of sight
She wears that Danville curl
She took me to her parlor
She treated me nice and kind
Gave my mind the notion
About bummin’ all the time
I bid my girl adieu
I pulled my cap down over my eyes
And walked out to the track
I caught the westbound freight train
And I never did come back
He completely blew me away. He came out there and DID NOT STOP for over two hours. It didn't seem like he wanted to go away. I sure didn't.
In the beginning, he said, "we'll even do a Madonna song," which seems like an old joke but it was still cute. The "Madonna song" was terriffic, it was at least thirteen minutes and he made us sing along. The 'reprise' mentioned in the review was after the original song finished, he said, "let's all sing the first verse again!" and we went right into it, followed with a few more choruses. I was afraid that was the end, but it wasn't, and I was thrilled. "Fashion Victim" and "Addicted to Black," which followed, were great. He then did "Headroom" which lead seamlessly into my favorite, "Dreidel." Dreidel was a lot different than the album version, as it followed the rock-y Headroom, so it was a little more rock 'n' roll. His country songs were great too, the other guitarist was really something. Tony Migliore was great, too, he's been with Don for who knows how many years and he is an AMAZING pianist. Pounded it all night long.
The most surprising segment was the blues. Don didn't change guitars the whole night, but the three Josh White songs sounded incredible. He was pickin' the blues on that guitar as loud as any electric. I'd never really heard him play in this style before and it added a whole new aspect to the show. He covered just about every classic genre.
-He started off with "Maybe Baby," as the review said, and then before he went into "Fools' Paradise" he said, "I can play as many Buddy Holly songs as I want!" and seemed very proud of himself. Very cute. =)
-During "La La Love You", the line when he sings "...and this lover and the way I feeeeeeeeel," instead of having "feel" being an incredibly high note as it was on the record, he lowered it a lot but held it for god knows how long. He can really sing. I was surprised he didn't do "Since I Don't Have You," but I guess the show was tiring enough. =P
-Before his blues segment he talked a lot about New Rochelle and the woods next to his home, and talked about the TV shows being shot there, how it was the sort of east-coast Hollywood.
I'll try and look for some pictures online.
Oh, I also got a DVD of him they were selling--the "Starry Starry Night" PBS show. I think it was in 2001. I haven't had time to watch it yet, but when I do I'll tell you all about it. Anyone else have it?
Even a week later, I am still amazed. I hope to see him again. =D
Oh, also found an article written before the concert:
I like this quote.
"It's all a matter of being tuned in to life. To me, songwriting is a visceral art form, not an intellectual one. Things occur, certain things at certain times, and you just go with it. It's like a sense of karma, with jags where you're involved." He pauses. "Life is like a kaleidoscope, twisting the tube, shaking the broken glass, trying to interpret the new forms, what it all means."