Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Leaping and hopping on a moonshadow

Yusuf Islam – Cat Stevens Live at the NIA, Birmingham, 23 November, 2009

I can’t quite believe that, after a 33 year absence, Yusuf Islam – Cat Stevens, has decided to tour again and is standing in front of me on stage. Next to me, in the precipitous seating of the NIA’s auditorium is my 19 year old son – normally a thrash metal fan but, I’m proud to say, one who is also able to appreciate iconic singer-songwriters. I’ve adored the music of Cat Stevens from his pop hits of the sixties to his classic albums of the 70s. Now, the man seems at peace with himself and his music.

The evening starts with a 25 minute showcase of ‘Moonshadow’ – a musical based on his songs, blending some of his earliest (‘Matthew and Son’, ‘A Bad Night’) with some of his more recent (‘Maybe There’s A World’). Cat Stevens grew up in London’s theatreland and this represents the culmination of a dream for the songwriter. When he comes back on after the break with his guitar and starts playing ‘Lilywhite’, I smile stupidly and continue to do so through ‘The Wind’, ‘Where Do The Children Play’ and ‘Oh Very Young’.

The six-piece backing band helps it all go smoothly. Alun Davies (the original supporting guitarist from those classic 70s albums) is back while Pete Adams on keyboards makes an admirable attempt at recreating Rick Wakeman’s piano solo when it comes to ‘Morning Has Broken’.

After finishing with ‘Peace Train’, we are treated to an encore that includes ‘Sitting’, ‘Tuesday’s Dead’ and ‘Father and Son’. The evening has been a joyous event for this father and son and the songs, with a common theme of the importance of a spiritual journey, put into perspective any worries about the working week. On this particular Monday, at least, we could all agree that “Till tomorrow, Tuesday’s dead.”


  1. Sounds like a good night. Thanks for introducing me to the song, 'Sitting', 30 years ago. I still love it. At last, Cat isn't wasting his talent anymore! Good to see you have a blog. I'll be keeping an eye on it and will link to you, if that's OK.

  2. Alex and myself (another father and son) agree wholeheartedly that this was a magical evening.
    Loving your blog, Tone.
    I just hope it isn’t going to replace Budgerigar!

  3. I thought this was a great review Tony. I am a big Yusuf fan but have never been lucky enough to see him. I have just added an extract from 'Hard Headed Woman' to my book:
    'I know a lot of fancy dancers,
    people who can glide you on a floor,
    They move so smooth but have no answers.'

    Talking of reviewing, have a look at a website called 'Remotegoat'. You could become an official reviewer for them. You can even review the quiz at the Woodcolliers!

    Cheers, Linda


About me

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Tony Gillam is Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, a freelance writer, trainer and musician. He is the author of 'Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing' (2002) and 'Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice' (2018).