Archive for the ‘Donovan’ Category

Donovan Tyne Theatre Newcastle 8th October 2015

Donovan Tyne Theatre Newcastle 8th October 2015
FullSizeRenderDonovan is out on the road again, working his way down the country on a 22 date 50th anniversary tour. He started in his home town of Glasgow, worked his way through Edinburgh and Dundee and then stepped over the border to come and play to us in Newcastle. From there he continues to Scarborough, Leeds and onward further south.
Now, Donovan is a bit of a story-teller and he is also a bit of a name-dropper. If you have ever been to one of his concerts you will know exactly what I mean. You are guaranteed to hear stories of the ’60s and of all the friends he made. At the Tyne Theatre Donovan tells us of his folk influences Buffy St Marie and Shawn Phillips as way of introduction to their songs “Universal Soldier” and “The Little Tin Soldier”. He mentions, of course, The Beatles and how George Harrison contributed a verse to “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and asks “Would you like to hear George’s verse?” to which we reply a rousing “YES”! He talks of his old friend and fellow traveler Gypsy Dave; and how they would have to run from crowds of screaming girls, comparing the scene to that of the Beatles running through the station at the start of “Hard Day’s Night”. Gypsy asked Donovan “Why are we running? Let’s stop and let them catch us!”. And he tells us of his muse and wife Linda, the subject of many of his songs; one of which “Madrigalinda” he sang for us. Linda and all the “Donovan clan” came to the Glasgow concert, “flying from every corner of the world” he declared proudly.
Donovan-Donovan's_Greatest_HitsDonovan sat alone cross-legged on a carpet laid across a raised platform, as he must have done many times over the years. He told us that we would “never be more than two or three songs away from a hit” and he was true to his word. He started the show with “Catch the Wind” and then went straight into “Colours”, many singing along with him. The mood then moved from “The Voice of Protest” from his 1975 7-Tease album to “Sleep” a lullaby from “Cosmic Wheels”. Then he took us back to 1965 and one of my favourites “The Little Tin Soldier” the “Fairytale” album. “Jennifer Juniper” was followed by the title track from 1976’s “Slow Down World”. Donovan then told a story of how “we all went to Jamaica” for a rest and a holiday during the ’60s and he came back with a new song “First There is a Mountain”. The first half of the concert closed with two old songs “To Try for the Sun” from “Fairytale” and “Donna Donna” from his first 1964 album “What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid”.
After a short interval Donovan returned and sang “Universal Soldier” which sounds just as powerful today as it ever did. This was followed by the beautiful traditional folk song “The Trees they do Grow High”, “Madrigalinda” for Linda and the excellent “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” took me right back; I used to have the EP of the same name, and I played it endlessly. FullSizeRender(1)As introduction to “The Promise” Donovan told us of his lovely green guitar,”Kelly”, which was designed for him using the colours of the Book of Kells. This led into a story of how he once visited Jimmy Page’s house, and how Jimmy had 300 guitars all lying across the floor in their cases, all in tune because, as Jimmy told Donovan, “You never know when you might need to play one”. “The Promise”, said Donovan, is to be played by “Kelly”, always live, and will never be recorded. The ballad “Lalena” led into the jokey fun “Intergalactic Laxative” from “Cosmic Wheels”. Then came the inevitable singalong of “Happiness Runs” with the men singing “Tralala…”, the women singing “Happiness Runs”, and Donovan singing the verse of top; all a bit too embarrassing for me. I didn’t join in (sorry Donovan). “Sunshine Superman” took us safely back to the hits. Now it I thought “Happiness Runs” was embarrassing, the final song took the meaning of the word embarrassment to whole new level. For “Mellow Yellow” Donovan finally took to his feet, and mimed and danced awkwardly to a recording of the original track. Still, you have to forgive him. It was great to see Donovan again. He has a tremendous back catalogue of tunes, and his stories are always fun (even if I have heard most of them before).
Set 1: Catch the Wind; Colours; The Voice of Protest; Sleep; The Little Tin Soldier; Jennifer Juniper; Slow Down World; First There is a Mountain; Try for the Sun; Donna Donna
Set 2: Universal Soldier; The Trees they do Grow High; Madrigalinda; Hurdy Gurdy Man; The Promise; Lalena; Intergalactic Laxative; Happiness Runs; Sunshine Superman; Mellow Yellow

Donovan in concert Manchester Bridgewater Hall 2004

Donovan in concert Manchester Bridgewater Hall 2004
In 2004, UK concerts by Donovan were few and far between. It had been 14 years since I’d last seen him in concert, so when he announced a couple of shows, one in Manchester and one in London, I decided it was time to see the troubadour child of the 60s again. Marie and I decide to make a weekend of it, and booked a room in a hotel opposite to the venue. We arrived early, and from our hotel room window a could see a small crowd waiting outside the stage door of the Bridgewater Hall. I guessed they were waiting for Donovan’s arrival, and went down and joined them. I waited around 30 minutes or so, and sure enough a black people carrier arrived and Donovan stepped out of the back of it. He took the time to talk to everyone and sign piece of memorabilia. Donovan seemed to know some of them; the guy beside was carrying a book which was signed by him on several pages. Donovan signed my flyer, and shook my hand. He looked well, and seemed genuinely pleased to meet everyone. The Bridgewater Hall is a lovely, purpose-built concert venue in the centre of Manchester. The gig was almost sold out, and we were treated to a set which drew from all periods of Donovan’s career, and especially from the 60s. Donovan clearly still believes in the ideals of those magic days, and reminisced about encounters with the Beatles and the Maharishi in India, and Buffy Sainte-Marie, as an introduction to her song “Universal Soldier”. He was promoting his latest album: Beat Club. He also sang Colours, Mellow Yellow, Catch The Wind and Hurdy Gurdy Man sitting, for part of the concert, cross-legged on an eastern rug. I bought a book of Donovan’s poetry, “She”. A wonderful evening in the company of a child of the 60s, whose songs have the power to take us all back there. The set included the following, although not in this order (and I have missed some I am sure): Sunshine Superman; GooGooBarabajagal; Season of the Witch; Lalena; Josie; Universal Soldier; Catch the Wind; Colours; Happiness Runs; Jennifer Juniper; There Is a Mountain; Hurdy Gurdy Man; Mellow Yellow; Atlantis

Donovan in concert Newcastle 1983 and 1990

Donovan in concert 1983 and 1990
I have been a big fan of Donovan since the 60s. I loved all of those hits, particularly the late 60s tracks: Hurdy Gurdy Man, Googoobarabajagal, Atlantis, Mellow Yellow and There is a Mountain were all favourites. But I didn’t get to see him until 1983, when he played at the City Hall. As far as I recall, he didn’t play the North East at all during the 70s. I did have a ticket to see him as support for Yes at Glasgow Apollo in 1977, but passed the gig up to see The Tubes who played Newcastle that night as part of their first UK tour. The 1983 gig was reasonably well attended, and Donovan was backed by a band for the show. The set was a mixture of old tracks and tracks from his recent albums, and there were quite a few songs that I didn’t recognise. Donovan was back in Newcastle 7 years later, when he played a concert at the Playhouse Theatre, which is a small venue up by the University. This concert was not very well attended; Donovan was almost forgotten by many people at this point. He had been passed by in the aftermath of punk and new wave, but his time was to come again. This gig was much more a greatest hits set than the 1983 concert. Donovan appeared alone, with acoustic guitar, sitting on a stool, delivering all of those great songs, and telling us stories of his life in the 60s. Just wonderful. Donovan released a live in concert album in 1990, and the track listing gives an idea of the likely setlist from the 1990 concert at the Playhouse Theatre. The tracklist is: Jennifer Juniper; Catch the Wind; Hurdy Gurdy Man; Sunshine Superman; Sadness; Universal Soldier; Cosmic Wheels; Atlantis; Wear Your Love Like Heaven; To Susan On the West Coast Waiting; Colours; Young Girl Blues; Young But Growing; Stealing; Sailing Homeward; Love Will Find a Way; LalĂ©na. It was another 14 years until I saw Donovan again, at Manchester Bridgewater Hall. That gig was sold out; by that time Donovan had (re)gained the respect he deserves. I’ll blog about the Manchester gig in more detail in a day or so.

Evolution festival Donovan May 31 2010

Evolution festival Donovan May 31 2010
We all (me, Marie, David and Laura) went along to the Evolution festival on bank holiday Monday primarily to see my old favourite Donovan who was playing on one of the three stages in a large marquee.
Donovan was great as ever. His set consisted of a selection of his songs (Laura and I knew all of them). He started with Catch the Wind and also played Mellow Yellow, Colours, Josie, Sunshine Superman, Sunny Goodge Street, Elenor, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Googoobarabajagal (bet I spelt that one wrong), Follow the sun, Jennifer Junipet, Universal Soldier and a great version of Atlantis for an encore. I will have missed some from the list ; I’m sure. The crowd loved him. Everyone seemed to know the songs and sang along. A great night had by all.

pass for the day