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Don Mclean

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill - 4th May, 2018

Written By Andy Gunton

The evening the music lived.

The last time I saw Don Mclean live was at the 1980 Cambridge Folk Festival, at the time that ‘Crying’ was a hit single for him.

That gig sticks in my mind as I was asked to stop drunkenly singing along to ‘American Pie’ by a couple in front of me because “We’ve paid to hear him singing, not you!"

Thankfully there were no such ‘problems’ this evening, although I defy anyone to not sing along to that particular song.

As Don Mclean said towards the beginning of this two hour gig, ‘We’ll get you tonight, one way or another”. I think it’s fair to say he achieved that, with plenty to spare.

The sold out crowd, nearly all of ‘a certain age’, were suitably impressed.

Don Mclean explained that his songs are a fusing of the biggest musical influences in his life, those being Folk, old fashioned Rock and Roll, and Popular Music.

While those musical genres were much in evidence tonight, there was also a fair sprinkling of Blues and Country and Western too.

For a 72 year old with nearly 50 years of performing behind him, it must be said that Don Mclean still packs a punch live.

He seems to be genuinely enjoying himself on stage, as do the rest of his very good backing band, some of whom have been with him for 30 years.

There is no going through the motions here.

The voice is still there, and his hair doesn’t seem to have changed over the years either. 

As for music itself, there were early outings tonight for Don Mcleans hit versions of Buddy Holly’s ‘Everyday’, and his take on ‘And I Love You So’.

His verison of ‘Crying’ was a particular highlight of the evening for me.

We were also treated to songs from across his long career, evidenced by ‘Crossroads’ from ‘American Pie’ following the title track from his brand new album ‘Botanical Garden’.

As with many performers of his age, several of the songs were introduced with stories about the songs, or where they came from, as well as personal memories.

A constant theme was of Don Mcleans gratitude and luck at being able to live a musical life for as long as he has done. 

He was also very grateful to the audience for being there, and for allowing him to live that life.

The journey through his musical career inevitably ended with an extended sing-a-long version of ‘American Pie’, which had the whole audience on its feet, some of whom were dancing in the aisles.

The man himself asked for the house lights to be turned up at this point, something which always helps to involve an audience.

An encore of a personal favourite of mine, ‘Vincent’, and a couple of nice upbeat songs ended a very enjoyable night in appropriate fashion.

Don Mclean was given a standing ovation by the very appreciative crowd, something that was fully deserved in my humble opinion.

I think this was his second visit to the De La Warr Pavilion, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back here again in the future. 

I certainly hope so.

Find out more about Don Mclean here: don-mclean.com

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