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Catch Bull at Cropredy

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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?”

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