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reports and thoughts on legal issues, music, Orthodox Christianity and/or whatever else strikes my interest

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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Guest Blog: Al Stewart at the Mucky Duck


(This concert review is a guest blog by my friend Fernando who is a longtime Al Stewart fan)

Al Stewart at the Mucky Duck, Sunday, January 27, 2008

Last Sunday night I went with my friend Dave to see Al Stewart, one of my five favorite living singer songwriters (in alphabetical order the others being: Guy Clark, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Neil Young) play the early show at the Mucky Duck. Al was accompanied by Dave Nachmanoff on lead guitar and on some songs joined by Mike Lindauer on bass. Dave and Mike warmed up the crowd with three of Dave’s songs (see complete set list below - copied from a post by Gail at Yahoo Group – Al Stewart Friends).

Al promptly took the stage upon completion of Dave’s last song and opened the show with a rousing version of House of Clocks from his second to last album Down in the Cellar. This song was followed by 11 adroitly played songs drawn from the albums Year of the Cat, Beach Full of Shells, and Between the Wars. Al related that he has recently been on a song writing tear, completing 17 new songs for his new album scheduled for release in the Summer/Fall of 2008.

Interspersed throughout the set, Al played 4 of these new songs, which were well received by the crowd. It is a testament to Al’s talent, as well as, the loyalty of his following, that a third of his play list on any given night can consist of so many new songs. I can’t think of another artist or group, popular in the 60’s or 70’s, performing today that can get away with playing anything other than their “Greatest Hits” play list during a concert.

For the encore, Al played End of the Day from the Time Passages album. This is one of my favorite Al Stewart songs and hearing it evokes in me a nostalgic and melancholy mood. I do not know if I read this somewhere else or maybe I was reading it at the time, but when I hear this song I think of the novel The Great Gatsby as seen through the eyes of Daisy Buchanan.

Al’s comfortable yet commanding on stage presence was evident during the performance. As always, Dave played beautifully. As in the many previous occasions that I have seen Al, between the songs he regaled the audience with funny and interesting stories and observations. Dictators from Stalin, Idi Amin, the Shah of Iran, as well as, Jean-Claude Duvalier “Baby Doc” formed part of a recurring theme during the show. At one point, Dave quipped that Al should do an album about repressive dictators throughout history. I think Al was taken by the idea. From past performances, Al’s between-the-song banter has steered me to writers like Ryszard Kapuscinski and Mervyn Peake and other musical performers like Aimee Mann and the legendary Leonard Cohen (in 2008 the 73-year old Leonard Cohen is scheduled to release a new album and tour for the first time in 15 years).

In the early 1970’s, with the release of his landmark album Past, Present and Future, Al Stewart invented a new musical genre – historical folk/pop music. This album contained tracks dealing with the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany, the German invasion of Russia, and the Cold War period in the U.S. and Great Britain. Not obvious subject matter for folk pop music. See this link to the History and References Behind Some of Al Stewart’s Songs:

http://www.alstewart.com/history/00_histmenu.htm

After a period of pop music stardom during the mid 1970’s through the early 1980’s, Al has released, from the mid 1980’s onward, a new album every few years. Al continues to actively tour the U.S. and Europe. In my opinion, Al’s last 3 albums starting with the 1995 album Between the Wars, the 2001 album Down in the Cellar, and extending through the 2005 album Beach Full of Shells, show Al at the top of his creative power.

As an aside, I have irrefutable proof of the decline of Western Civilization. In 1998, I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Al and another couple at the restaurant in the Lancaster Hotel. During an enjoyable dinner with very interesting discussions, Al related that in more than 2 years after its release, the Between the Wars album had sold significantly less than 10,000 copies. This amazes me to no end, as in my estimation the Between the Wars album is among Al’s very best work.

Set List – January 27, 2008 – Sunday, Mucky Duck, Houston, 6 pm
Dave Nachmanoff:

Midnight Sea
A Certain Distance
Descartes in Amsterdam

Al Stewart:

House of Clocks
Flying Sorcery
Katherine of Oregon
A Child's View of the Eisenhower Years (NEW)
On the Border
Night Train to Munich
Hanno the Navigator (NEW)
Midas Shadow
Unexpected Frisson (NEW)
Gina in the King's Road
Shah of Shahs (NEW)
Year of the Cat (Peter Lorre replaced with Idi Amin, light hearted banter concerning dictators throughout night)

Encore:
End of the Day

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be nice if he would play something off of his best album,Love Chronicles.Songs like The Ballad Of Mary Foster and In Brooklyn would be more than welcomed additions in the set list.

10:44 PM  
Blogger andrew said...

I think that Man for all Seasons is the Ultimate best he has done.
Im trying to go see a concert but im in Nebraska only till Jan. and he skips Omaha :(, but maybe we can drive to denver :) no I doubt it.
Anyhow thats really cool!

2:38 PM  

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