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Donovan's 70th Birthday Party

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2016 3:19 pm
by Adam Blake
Thoroughly enjoyed attending Donovan's 70th birthday celebration at the London Palladium last night - courtesy of Garth Cartwright who said I was the most 60s person in his address book and therefore had to attend. I'm glad I did. Donovan is irrepressibly, one might almost say remorselessly himself at all times and he seemed in excellent spirits this evening as he attempted to provide the audience with the ambience of an early 60s beatnik cafe. In this he was surely successful, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of a Swedish classical guitarist whose unassuming manner belied his formidable technique. A lifetime's work has gone into those renditions of popular pieces by Albeniz and Tarrega et al. Next up was a poet who read a section of "Fern Hill". How difficult Dylan Thomas's poetry seems nowadays, so far removed from its source. But then - hooray! - Michael Horovitz shambled onstage and delivered a long anarchic poem full of kazoo interjections. At over 80 years old, he gave us a genuine display of the energy and irreverence of the beat era that did a lot to dispel the air of cosy nostalgia.

Then came Don. He did all the hits of course. His trademark slow vibrato was a bit wobbly but he warmed up after a few numbers. His guitar playing lost the groove here and there but it really didn't matter. The expert jazz rhythm section, featuring Don's arranger John Cameron on piano, rescued him each time with effortless grace and no small amount of affection. Best of all were the between song stories. The tale of the Billy Fury b&b was worth the price of admission in itself. Don is a first class raconteur in the Celtic Bard tradition (a tradition he claims, with some vigour, as his rightful inheritance). He is a benign egomaniac, basking in the love of the faithful, a true survivor of a gentler age. He threw Iris's into the audience at the end. Of course he did. Such good taste in flowers. It seems all is well on Planet Donovan. Bless him.

Musically, I noticed for the first time the similarity between "Season Of The Witch" and "I'm Waiting For The Man". One is about scoring heroin in Harlem, the other about beatniks making it rich. One seems to have proved considerably more durable than the other. And Andy M will be pleased to hear that Don opened his set with "There Is A Mountain" and Juanita the Mexican drag queen was called for with due urgency. Sadly, she did not appear.

A very enjoyable evening - thanks again to Garth.

(The vintage playbills at the Palladium are worth a visit in themselves. Such a treasure trove of British entertainment. A testament to the times when playing The Palladium was just about as good as it got.)

Re: Donovan's 70th Birthday Party

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 10:54 am
by john poole
Thanks Adam.

For Donovan's 70th today here's a 1967 version of 'Season of the Witch' live on French TV's Bouton Rouge
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3PRkOZvAa0

Also 70 today Graham Gouldman & Dave Mason - all born on 10th May, 1946.

Re: Donovan's 70th Birthday Party

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 12:23 pm
by Adam Blake
Cheers, John. Dave Mason was someone I wanted to BE when I was about 13!

Re: Donovan's 70th Birthday Party

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 4:03 pm
by NormanD
john poole wrote:For Donovan's 70th today here's a 1967 version of 'Season of the Witch' live on French TV's Bouton Rouge
Any idea who the drummer is on this? He comes in firing on all cylinders.

My favourite of Donovan's is "Sunny Goodge Street" - still a lovely song. Here's a live version, of which I don't know the origin. Don walks on, looking ready for Hamlet's soliloquy in a provincial rep., and then he plays and sings......"My, my, I sigh....."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI434oaUT2Y

Re: Donovan's 70th Birthday Party

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 6:54 pm
by john poole
NormanD wrote:Any idea who the drummer is on this?
Not really - possibly Bobby Orr or Tony Carr?

http://www.angelfire.com/mac/keepitlive ... rr/orr.htm
https://rateyourmusic.com/artist/tony_carr/credits/

Re: Donovan's 70th Birthday Party

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 1:10 pm
by Adam Blake
NormanD wrote:My favourite of Donovan's is "Sunny Goodge Street" - still a lovely song. Here's a live version, of which I don't know the origin. Don walks on, looking ready for Hamlet's soliloquy in a provincial rep., and then he plays and sings......"My, my, I sigh....."


One of my favourites too. Gorgeous song. So evocative. Donovan has (had) a real gift for that kind of thing. Another favourite is "Summer Day Reflection Song" (which he didn't do the other night). Also, I always thought "Colours" was a traditional folk song but he wrote it. That's a classic too.

Re: Donovan's 70th Birthday Party

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 1:24 pm
by NormanD
Adam Blake wrote:I always thought "Colours" was a traditional folk song but he wrote it. That's a classic too.

'Black is the colour of my true love's hair' is the likely connection to this and trad. folk.