Don McLean – nostalgic rock'n'roller doesn't wave bye to American Pie

Bridgewater Hall, Manchester The country rocker pays tribute to his musical heroes with a rapt trip down memory lane – and a dig at Kanye West On 3 February, 1959, a plane crash near Clear Lake , Iowa, took the lives of rock’n’rollers Buddy Holly , Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. “The day the music died” inspired Don McLean’s signature 1971 hit American Pie , an eight-and-a-half minute, 800-word lament for rock’n’roll and a farewell to the 1960s which, along the way, referenced everyone and thing from Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger and Janis Joplin to the killing of Meredith Hunter at the Altamont festival in 1969. McLean’s best-known song has become too ubiquitous for some, but if he’s ever done a concert since without playing it, it isn’t going to be this one. “I may get lost in my reverie, but I will keep my statutory responsibilities,” he says, prompting knowing waves of applause. The singer-songwriter is 72, his tenor has lowered an octave or two and has a slightly shouty timbre in the upbeat moments, but he has the energy for a two-hour show in which his hero Holly’s Everyday still features. McLean introduces one of his great, early songs And I Love You So with a story about how, aged 25, he was so angry when his first album was rejected “by 20 record companies” that he threw the tapes out in the snow. “And here we are, 47 years later.” Hearing his young self’s thoughts coming from him now is undeniably moving. Continue reading...

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