May 27th, 2011

Yusaf Islam/Cat Stevens Review

First off - who knew that his fan base is composed of seriously wealthy people?

I don't think I've ever been surrounded by so many rich people in my life. Thank god I wore a sports jacket and button down shirt (like I always do) because at least I didn't stand out that much from the people who were wearing suits and dresses that cost as much as my monthly rent.

Also, it was interesting to see that there are super wealthy Muslims in France. You don't get to see that in Montpellier. A lot of the Muslims brought their entire families with them. At 120 euro minimum a ticket it's a serious investment to bring your five children with you to a show.

Of course, that was nothing compared to the non-Muslims who were buying the 100 euro bottles of champagne on offer like they were going out of style. (The irony of spending that much money visibly on alcohol while watching an Islamic socialist artist was, I guess, lost on them. )

The show itself was awesome, if seriously weird. The two songs that got the best response from the crowd were "The First Cut Is The Deepest" and "Father And Son." After "Father And Son" he got a four or five minute standing ovation that only stopped when he finally said "Can you please sit down so I can play another song?"

(When I told Rome Girl that the crowd went orgasmic for "The First Cut Is The Deepest" she replied "A Sheryl Crowe song?")

Meanwhile, "Peace Train" - his biggest hit - got a lukewarm response. But that may have been because he tried to tie it in to a new unreleased song about the current Arab uprisings.

The strangest part of the show - by far - was when he announced that he's in the midst of writing a musical with both old and new songs that he hopes to get on Broadway or The West End. It will be called "Moonshadow" and while he has not written the dialog yet or decided on all of the songs he will include he did want to preview it.

So, we got six songs where in between each song he talked about what would be happening in the story at that point. Meanwhile Tolkienesque CGI images were displayed on video screens around the auditorium.

The plot consists of a boy living in a world where there is no sun and the only light comes from the shadow of the moon. People don't even know that it is possible for a sun to exist. Boy meets girl and falls in love. Problems ensue. Then boy and girl find out a secret that causes the sun to shine for the first time ever on their world and are able to live a life of love and peace forever because they have "enlightened" the world.

Can you imagine how Glenn Beck would interpret that musical if it ever got to Broadway? Also, whoa did this part of the show make me wish I still smoked dope.

His voice has improved a lot with age and is deeper and makes all the songs seem more soulful. He played a very slowed down version of "Morning Has Broken" that was heartbreakingly beautiful.

He's also updated the lyrics to a lot of his songs. For example the opening lyrics to "Where Do The Children Play" are now "Well I think it's fine, building high speed trains. Or taking a ride into cyberspace."

The most interesting newer song and intro was one about him getting detained by police in Texas for looking like Osama bin Laden and having a weird name. (I have not googled this so I have no idea if this is a true story or if he was just trying to make a point about profiling.)

He was really humble and had a good sense of humor. At one point a girl screamed out "I love you Yusef!" and he replied "That's really cool, but my wife is here tonight" and then had the crew shine a spotlight on his wife.

At another point he commented "This is the first time I've been allowed in France in 35 years. Too bad they stuck me in Bercy. I guess we aren't cool enough for the Stade De France."

Near the end of the show people up front started chanting for him to sing "Lady D'Amberville." After a bit of this he said "OK. But I haven't played this song since I came back to this type of work so if I get it wrong don't hate me."

As far as I could tell he got it right.

All in all a great show both because he's ridiculously charming and his songs are good and the entire experience was just the perfect level of weirdness to be memorable.

Writer's Block: Fast-food TV

Are there any dreadfully bad TV shows that you wouldn't want your friends to know you watch? Confess! (This is LiveJournal, where we love you unconditionally.)

That reality show about gay Nazi bikers who started up their own ballet company.

And that sit com where the dad is dumb and can't figure shit out but the mom is all knowing and the kids are cute even when they get themselves into trouble.