Swear I'm not Paul: Live Review: Yusuf Islam, O2 Dublin, 15 November 2009

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Live Review: Yusuf Islam, O2 Dublin, 15 November 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.)


Darren said...

I've heard so many bad things about the concert, but you make it sound quite interesting. I think I'd like to have gone along.

Anonymous said...

show was a complete rip off. want my money back.

Ronan said...

Got to love such harsh sentiment. What exactly about the show was a rip off?

Anonymous said...

I was there last night. I don't know how long the final musical will be but it was surely more than a preview that we got last night. It was just very frustrating hearing classic stevens songs one after another being sung by actors, pre-pubescent ones for some songs. The significance of this was that nobody could really sing along, which we had all come to do, a great shame. I dont think anybody was necessarily booing the actors themselves, it was just bred from the frustration of having to listen to them at Yusuf Islam concert (granted the posters did suggest that the musical would be part of the show.

I enjoyed the show considering it was over two and half hours in length, so in fairness there was a full yusuf Islam show in there. He certainly didn't deserve a relatively bad reception upon announcing he was about to play some newer songs, more power to him. ...I was glad I went overall.

Ciara said...

While I hate those who comment anonymously I do tend to agree with Anonymous. It was obvious that the large majority of the audience were conned by promoters into believing they would be witnessing a Greatest Hits set. While I don't agree that they were right to expect every hit song I think that as the radio ads used Yusuf/Cat's hits in the background there was a reasonable expectation that they would hear HIM singing Wild World and Matthew & Son, not West End singers. I didn't boo but I stopped clapping 20 minutes into the musical. I thought the show looked tiresome, what we saw of the plot was hackneyed and boring. Granted, seeing Cat Stevens perform and a musical all in one night might not seem like a rip off but being ripped off is not always about quantity of entertainment, sometimes, nay always, it's about quality. And Ronan Keating? Ugh. He killed the song years ago, I can't believe he was asked back to hammer the final nail in.

Siobhán said...

Interesting review... leaves me with mixed feelings.. I was initially gutted that I'd missed the show, I still don't know how I missed the publicity (or lack thereof!!) because the first I heard of this show was last Thursday morning the 12th! When I heard "Sunday the 15th" I assumed that was the date the tickets went on sale, so imagine my shock on Sunday morning to see that the show was on that night in Dublin (and me down in Cork... :( ) The music of Stevens/Islam is very significant to me, both on a superficial level of musical enjoyment and the personal level of conjuring reminiscent images with my late father, and for both those reasons I would have gladly traveled to Dublin for the concert, had I known more than 12 hours in advance!

Apologies for the long comment.... I guess I should just have said "Thank you for assuring me that I did not miss out on much..." :)

Anonymous said...

Had Stevens told me that there would be a musical preview lasting 30 minutes and he would be back singing afterwards I would have been happy. Instead he dropped it in as a "surprise" and I was mystified. I had after all paid my money to hear him - not some actors singing. All was well in the end. Some "signposting" by Stevens coud have prevented the whole awkward situation. People would have understood and been patient. Seamus - Belfast.

Anonymous said...

I was at the concert. I loved the last third of the show, I didn't love the first third but was open minded about it, and gradually accepted Cat/Yusuf's vision for his gradually easing into the show. I was open minded during the musical, and saw what they were doing, they were there to ease the pressure on an ageing artist while at the same time entertaining, they were beautiful singers, and added colour and variety. I loved "father & son" with Ronan Keating. I enjoyed the concert. I was open minded enough to wait patiently to see what Cat/Yusufs vision for the concert was, and not pass judgement until I'd left the show. He seems to be a very gently talented man, who has retained a huge fan base without been on the circuit. I am ashamed to have shared a seat in a venue with a number of bad mannered, vulgar people, who shouted at Cat/Yusuf from the start of the concert demanding which songs they wanted to hear without knowing the running order of the show. I cannot express my disgust enough about the behaviour I observed. I had a drink on the mcCill Airne on the way back from the concert and was standing enjoying the experience and happened to be beside a father & son team from Monaghan, the father was the guy who went up to the stage and put his fingers in the "F____ Off" symbol and went out, but came back in to enjoy the remainder of the concert. He obviously was a representive example of the people I mention above, he reckoned that the only correct people at this venue dealt with the situation his way or else they fell into the other catagory of been "middle class sheep" the new name for manners & proper obviously. Ronan excellent review. Maureen.

Christina said...

He could have got away with it if he stuck to the singing instead of the actors or did it in shorter snippets. Nearly an hour worth of a muscial was too much. Bit annoyed he didn't sing wild world, first cut is the deepest etc and were sang by laddy-di-da actors instead! He seems to want to distance himself from the cat stevens time although is happy to live off the proceeds of the all the best of albums released. Very arrogant, i came from Scotland to see him. He was brilliant when he kept it simple - could have been amazing instead was just 'OK'. Most of the crowd were on edge i felt and not enjoying what was going on. If he had played Glasgow he would have been knocked off stage within the first 15 mins of the 2nd half we would not have put up with massaging his huge ego!!!!