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Front Row Review

Cat Stevens - Theatre Royal London, Sunday 12th December 1971

By Roy Carr

As a first attempt in revealing all his assets at such close contact, Cat Stevens was for the most part successful when he took the stage at London’s Theatre Royal on Sunday.

Admitting to being slightly nervous and apprehensive he nevertheless dispelled any butterflies as with some unobtrusive help from an assortment of talented musical friends, he played safe by sticking to the more popular cuts front his trilogy of excellent albums, "Mona Bone Jakon," "Tea For The Tillerman" and "Teaser And The Firecat." Though this may have been the case, I personally felt that it was a number — written some time ago but premiered that evening —"The Boy With The Moon & Star On His Head" which through its delicate story line exposed the consummate perception that Stevens is capable of producing.

There was some skilful use of underplayed theatrics like the backcloth lifting slowly at a given moment during a dramatic chord in one song to reveal a string orchestra under the direction of Del Newman. Again, the augmentation of bouzouki players Andreas Toumazis and Angelos Hatzipavli to his regular accompanists Alun Davies (vocal & guitar), Larry Steele (bass) and Gerry Conway (drums) added just that right amount of colour to the proceedings.

Switching between acoustic guitar and a grand piano, Stevens ran through such well received originals as "Wild World," "Miles From Nowhere" and new song "King Of Trees," "Tuesday’s Dead," "Father and Son," "The Wind," "Lady D'Arbanville," "Morning Has Broken," "Lillywhite," "Hard Headed Woman" and "Longer Boats" ... there were others.

Thankfully, Stevens has kept well away from the voguish shuffling millionaire hobo imagery adopted by so many of his nearer rivals and, as such the diversity of his songs and his use of dramatics in both his performance and conception enables him to maintain the listeners attention. By no means an easy or enviable task.

However, when artists such as Melanie and Stevens put all their eggs in one basket by allowing themselves the luxury of indulging in one-artist concerts, they have to be prepared to stand or fall entirely on their own merits. At the moment, both artists have no worry but in the coming years they will have to learn the art of under-exposing their talent and the sin and consequence of over-indulgence.

New Music Express Magazine

18 December 1971