Don McLean @Colston Hall (Bristol)


On Friday 19th at Bristol Colston Hall, Sir Don McLean played for the 40th Anniversary tour. Despite possibly being the youngest couple who paid for their own ticket, for an hour and a half my boyfriend and I felt in just the right place.

For those who don’t know, Don McLean is the songwriter of the masterpiece called “American Pie”, a 70-year-old incredibly short man, with more energy than some of the young frontmen that I’ve seen onstage. Moreover, he was accompanied by four elderly musicians, aged 60-plus, including one of the most energetic drummers I’ve seen in a while (remarkably alike Kris Kristofferson, I simply loved that man). Don played blues and rockabilly, going from the bluegrass of the 50s, Motown to including his famous track “And I Love you So”. He also paid homage to both Elvis (“That’s alright mama”) and Marty Robbins, with the country-Western ballad “El Paso” (the forefather of songs like Dylan’s Knocking on Heavens Doorand Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive).

The setting floated from some intimate and acoustic tracks to thick and funky jamming experiences (“Fashion Victim”), including a roundup of classics such as “Vincent (Starry Starry Night)”, “ Empty Chairs”, “Winterwood”. Despite the long setlist, he seemed not to feel the weariness and made the age difference disappear, as the audience was living in this dreamland made of memories (recent or old, it really did not matter). Don McLean combines the freshness of folk, the carefree and cheeky approach of 50s Rock and Roll and the glossy (yet contagious) romanticism of the 60s ballads. As the end of the show was approaching, everybody was shivering with excitement for the hit “American Pie”. We sang along, we clapped our hands, a whole theatre standing up and singing in one single voice about “the day the music died”.

Friday night proved to me once again that music has no age, has no expiry date, and its echoes can be heard over the decades, and make all our age differences disappear. If this is not a reason to love music, then I don’t know what else to say.

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