Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Catch Bull at Cropredy

August 17, 2009

The gradual return of Yusuf Islam, the former Cat Stevens, to mainstream rock reached another milestone at the weekend when the 1970s singer-songwriter hit the stage at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, telling the crowd that this was, remarkably, his first festival gig in 37 years.

cat-stevensNow performing as simply Yusuf, the singer’s appearance at the Oxfordshire festival was beautifully crafted, but in some ways as tentative as his emergence from decades of self-imposed exile as a devout convert to Islam.

His appearance was as a “friend” of Fairport Convention, meaning that he only performed briefly in the iconic folk-rock band’s top-of-the-bill closing set.

The handful or so of songs may also have been a disappointment to some. He repeatedly fended off requests for the angst-anthem “Father and Son”, saying he had not practised it. No room either for “Wild World”, “Hard Headed Woman” or “Where do the Children Play?”

But the crowd did get a fine taste of Yusuf’s lyrical new album, including title track “Roadsinger”, along with a couple of oldies such as “Ruins” from 1972′s Catch Bull at Four album.

And then there was a rollicking rendition of top-hit “Peace Train”, accompanied by old Fairporters and British folk rock godfather Richard Thompson.  So after 37 years that was pretty much alright then.

(Reuters photo: Mario Anzuoni. Yusuf Islam prepares for concert in Los Angeles in May)

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