March 2, 2011It was hardly a starry, starry night last night when Don McLean had his concert at the Araneta Coliseum. It was in fact a very rainy night. I was not really planning to watch his concert at all since I only know about three of his songs. However, I had a meeting that same night in the Gateway Mall. So after our meeting, I took a chance and got a P530 General Admission ticket to watch Mr. American Pie. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the Patron area was sold out. The middle sections of the Gen Admission area were also quite full. I had to content myself sitting in the less crowded edge right side.
It was already past 9pm when I got inside the coliseum. I already missed the front act, who I read was Aiza Seguerra. The lights are already down by then, however, the concert still did not start right away. When it did start, it was certainly not explosive. 65-year old Don McLean strode out on stage wearing a shiny green shirt and his guitar. He simply said hello to the audience, and started with a Buddy Holly song called "Everyday". This was followed by one of his songs, "Winterwood." Then he sang a familiar sweet song which I did not know was his, "If We Try." I actually thought that was a Beatles song! Very nice. He then went into a series of folksy country songs like "La La I Love You", "Jerusalem," "Tulsa Time" and "Food on the Table". I did not really know these songs, but I must say, he sang them quite earnestly.
He said he would sing his ballads next, and of course, the Pinoy audience was immediately excited. The very first one was the very nice and mellow "And I Love You So." That song was covered by many singers including Elvis Presley and Perry Como. Of course, for Pinoys this was the theme song and title of a recent Bea Alonzo-Sam Milby movie. This was followed by the gentle "Empty Chairs" and his Fred Astaire tribute song "Wonderful Baby." The next song was called "What Would the World Be Like?" Now, that was a beautiful song. The audience was quiet and mesmerized as the lights were slowly moving about the stage. He certainly had a "moment" with that song.
He did a couple of covers of very familiar songs next, both done by Roy Orbison before: "Love Hurts" and "Crying". His version of "Crying" showcased that he still has that power in his voice, very strong (a rather flat last note notwithstanding). He followed this up with a sing-along session with the audience on a bouncy song called "This Little Light of Mine". He also introduced his band members during this song.
His next song was a new one called "In A Museum." It had a dark odd yet modern sound, very melodic. Just as he ended that song, he immediately and unexpectedly launched into "Starry, starry night...." This song "Vincent" is really exquisite and timeless. The lyrics are poetry as the melody is precious. I do not know why he seemed to be rushing, but even as we were still breathless as "Vincent" ended, he sang "Long long time ago..." This "American Pie" of his lasted for more than 10 minutes! This was a really legendary song. I am very happy to have heard it sung live by Don McLean himself.
As it was getting quite late, I had to leave already even though Mr. McLean was still continuing his jamming on stage with his band. I am glad that I decided to have spent this past hour and a half with a singer-songwriter in the truest sense of the word.