Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on May 13th 2009 11:00AM by Steve Baltin
Even walking into Monday's invite-only show at Los Angeles' El Rey theater and seeing the name Cat Stevens, in quotes, on the marquee, was like stepping into a time warp. Islam took the stage a little after 8 pm, following an instrumental intro by his band, who welcomed him by saying, "First Cat, now Yusuf," beautifully bridging the three decades.
Islam opened with the simple, sweet 'Welcome Home,' the opening track on his new 'Roadsinger (to Warm You Through the Night)' collection, then followed with 'Lilywhite,' off 'Mona Bone Jakon,' an album he said, "Somehow I seem to connect much more with now."
Throughout the hourlong set he moved between his past catalog -- invoking chills during a sublime 'Where Do the Children Play' and moving the audience noticeably during 'Father and Son' -- and new material, such as 'Thinking 'Bout You' along with 'The Rain,' a song he said he pulled from a 1968 batch of songs.
Charming, genteel and humble, Islam has lost none of his onstage charisma, turning a gorgeous rendition of 'The Wind' into a storytelling session on the many breaks in his life, including the famous story of finding the Koran after nearly drowning. He introduced 'Wild World' by saying, "I bet you never thought 'Wild World' would be sung in Zulu," and delivered new songs like 'All Kinds of Roses' and 'Be What You Must' with engaging banter. The latter was written for a musical, of which he said, "God willing, will be out next year."
After yet another standing ovation for 'Father and Son,' the smiling Islam said, "You must let me go," before closing out the night with a singalong version of 'Peace Train' that captured all the hope and joy of one of those rare shows that surpassed all the expectation and hype.