Don McLean’s shows last year were undermined by a saccharine duet with his daughter, windy exposition of the stories behind the songs and a perfunctory rendition of American Pie.
Fortunately, there were no fogeyish tirades against digital technology this time from the evergreen troubadour, 44 years of performing having done nothing to diminish the rich, full timbre of his remarkable voice and zeal for the nostalgic, bittersweet, mythical visions of Americana he evokes.
Even Superman’s Ghost, which he unveiled with an awkward elegy for George Reeves, the original TV Man of Steel, and an admiring cover of Marty Robbins’ hilariously overwrought El Paso remained just the right side of mawkish.Long before the standing ovation that greeted the extended flourish of his most famous hit, he and his band endeared themselves with a memorable performance.
Homeless Brother was an early stand-out, soulful compassion resonating from its lyrics, while a relaxed, lolloping rendition of Victor Young’s A Hundred Years From Today was a calm before the practising Catholic’s full-throated, committed tribute to Jerusalem.
The understated balladry of And I Love You So afforded brief contemplation before the band burst into rollicking rock ’n’ roll with Tulsa Time and the sneery Fashion Victim.
In a setlist inflected by country, the plaintive Let Me Down Easy was eclipsed by McLean’s gorgeous take on Roy Orbison’s Crying, an emotional high-water mark until the encore’s simple, unaccompanied beauty of Vincent.
Rating: * * * *