Don McLean performing at The Symphony Hall Birmingham on Thursday 10th May 2018

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

A long time resident of The Songwriters Hall Of Fame and writer of some of the most famous and influential songs of our time, Don McLean unassumingly took to the stage at the Town Hall Birmingham last night with his band.

Having been awarded over forty gold and platinum albums worldwide, McLean recently released his first new album in eight years. Botonical Gardens is this legendary artist’s nineteenth studio album. Joined on this tour by his world class and long standing band, many of which have performed alongside McLean for over twenty years, they easily delved into his vast and expansive songbook.

Launching straight into his adaptation of Singing The Blues his warm and familiar voice sounded very good. The Buddy Holly classic Everyday followed and was warmly received as he slowed it down making it intricate and personable. Crossroads, a piano ballad from his 1971 album American Pie balanced melancholia with hope and was so lyrically soul grabbing that it sounded like a brand new song.

New songs from Botanical Gardens such as the stand out A Total Eclipse Of The Sun, You’ve Got Such Beautiful Eyes and The Lucky Guy sat side by side with McLean’s firmly established fans favourites. He introduced one of his great early songs, And I Love You So with a story about how aged 25 he was so angry when his first album was rejected by twenty record companies that he threw the tapes out in the snow but proudly said “And here we are, 47 years later” to the applause of the crowd.

But it was not all about the songs as he accompanied each one with fascinating and insightful back stories from his life’s work in the music industry which had the crowd enthralled.

Introducing his 1971 song American Pie he told the audience that he was always being asked what American Pie means and that he always replied “That I never have to work again”, much to the delight of the audience. Following was a 13 minute rendition of the song which was joyous, as the audience sprang to their feet singing every word and confirming American Pie as their Hey Jude or Wonderwall.

Johnny Horton’s Got The Bull By The Horns was delivered in Jerry Lee Lewis style and finished the main set. And whilst McLean looked as though he would have been happy to play all night, all good things must come to an end and they did with a show stopping performance of the magical Vincent which was as poignant as ever. Finishing the night with his take on the Everly Brothers Walk Right Back, he earned a standing ovation from the Birmingham faithful.