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
Interval
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

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