What can one expeect from a Don McLean concert in 2012? Can a song as iconic as American Pie ever lose it's relevance or luster? Other than American Pie, Starry Night, and And I Love Her So, what does Don play in concert? When we booked Don McLean we anticipated such questions. And everyone we spoke to had wonderful things to say. Our presenting partners WGBY public television in Springfield aired a special on Don three times this month to great response. And we found this review of a Don McLean concert in Australia last year that answers the question about the evening's repertoire. We are truly excited and delighted to host Don McLean at the Calvin Theatre on a lovely Spring night in downtown Northampton, Saturday, April 14th at 8PM. Here's the Aussie review:
Live Music Review: Don McLean by Ray Purvis
Burswood Theatre, Perth, Australia
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Backed by a tight four-piece band, the legendary singer-songwriter began with a short history lesson in American music: a medley of songs by Buddy Holly, followed by his depression-era hobo ballad Homeless Brother and then a rousing singalong version of the gospel-flavoured This Little Light of Mine.
His own classic songs were strategically positioned throughout the show. The first of them was the gorgeous romantic ballad And I Love You So that was once covered by Elvis Presley, with McLean's smooth delivery proving that his voice today is as strong and as versatile as back in the 70s.
If there were any doubts about his ability to sustain the long notes, these were dispelled with a powerful rendition of Roy Orbison's classic Crying, a hit for McLean in 1980.
Alongside the hard-hitters was a selection of songs that illustrated his well-wrought reflections on life and love, including Winterwood, Crossroads, Magdalene Lane and Jerusalem, all lesser-known tracks from his considerable back catalogue.
Towards the end he unveiled the show-stopping Vincent (Starry, Starry Night), the compassionate tale of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, which vividly brings to life the painter's landscapes and portraits and highlights his tragic struggle for recognition.
Another audience favourite followed in Castles in the Air, a track from his first album, 1970's Tapestry. The song, which was re-recorded in the early 80s, was about quitting the rat race and adopting a country lifestyle. It was simply presented in solo mode with just a hint of keyboard and electric guitar.
Then, to top off the evening, it was time to drive a Chevy to the levee. Even though McLean has long refused to unravel the symbolism of American Pie, it has become one of the greatest pop songs of all time. From the opening notes the crowd were on their feet singing and clapping along to the lyrics that were inspired partly by the death of Buddy Holly in a plane crash in 1959 - "the day the music died".
During those eight minutes and 36 seconds, in the capable hands of the author, the audience really did believe in rock'n'roll and that music would save their mortal soul.