Monday, November 16, 2009
Cat Stevens has long been a divisive fellow. From his name change to Yusuf Islam and his conversion to a different religion, he's always gotten strange gasps from even his most ardent followers. Last night at the O2 in Dublin was no different. It was definitely one of those "you had to be there" moments. Billed as Yusuf/Cat's first ever live performance in Ireland, it half lived up to the billing.
To sum up what happened (how can you really sum up what happened?), Yusuf Islam performed for around twenty minutes acoustically, then introduced his band, and played another twenty minutes with them. After that, he introduced his intermission act, 'Moonshadow the Musical'. The musical was a treat, it really was, but a lot of the fans who paid almost a hundred euro for tickets did not want to see the Irish debut of a West End performance when they had paid for the Irish debut of Cat Stevens.
Following the musical, he and his band returned to the stage again, by this time however, some of the disenchanted audience had left (they had booed too), but those who had stayed on heard him joke that he now knew how he fell when Dylan turned electric. They also got a very special encore performance of 'Father and Son' where Cat was joined by Ronan Keating.
The musical itself is a bit unusual, the story is quite complex, but allegedly what we got last night was a preview of it. I doubt many people will be going over to London especially for it, nor will a quarter of the audience plan on seeing Yusuf Islam in a live setting again. (It wasn't a fifty-fifty split, although some of the people who did stay on were only holding out hope he would return.)
Everybody else though, seemed to really enjoy it. Especially when Cat Stevens was on stage himself doing what he does best. I did not know too many of the newer songs, such as 'Roadsinger', but old hits such as 'Peace Train, 'Where Do The Children Play' and 'Moonshadow' went down a treat. 'Tuesday's Dead' was a real highlight of the show, and Islam/Stevens was really in flying form once he got going.
The tour was billed as the I Guess I'll Take My Time tour, and it certainly lived up to its name. But for some people (not the majority) far too much of their time was taken up. It's an awful pity that the return of a legendary performer didn't go down better.
(Photo thanks to mgonamission, see more here.)