Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Steven Lieberman
Observer Reporter 

Cat Stevens Appears At Nokia Theatre

 

December 29, 2014

Yusuf, formerly known as the incomparable Cat Stevens, made a stop on his "Peace Train" on December 14 during his five-city swing of America to present his "U.S. Peace Train...Late Again Tour 2014."

Late again because it's been 35 years since the British singer-songwriter has played a concert in front of a live audience due to a decision he made in 1979, after 10 years of pop-stardom, to exit the music business to raise a family and explore his conversion to Islam.

On this final stop of his tour at Nokia Theatre, he radiated gratitude at the out-pouring of love from a sold-out audience at the 7,100-capacity venue. It was a reception that reminded everybody how strongly his music still resonates four decades later. The soft baritone voice still carries the same comfort it did 40 years ago. He still sounds the same.

He sang for 2 ½ hours, including a 25-minute intermission, on a stage creatively set up replicating an Old West train depot. At the end of the first half, he said, "the train hasn't arrived yet." Hinting that his famous "Peace Train" hit would make an appearance after the break.

His solid six-piece band, which included his longtime fellow guitarist Alun Davies, was spot on, especially drummer Kwame Yeboah, whose animated spirit and contagious mirth was transcendent, elevating the audience. His rhythm drove the band.

Yusuf treated the audience to all of his big hits and a few great covers, especially his rendition of the Beatles classic "All You Need is Love," which filled the Nokia Theatre with a beautiful spirit. Another bright spot was his rendition of Sam Cooke's "Another Saturday Night."

Any song he sings turns to gold. Especially two of his biggest commercial hits and beloved anthems, "Wild World" and "Moonshadow." Moonshadow got the crowd "leapin and a hoppin.'".

One of the most memorable moments of the night was when Yusuf returned for the encore and said, "We are going to be here until morning," and then sang "Morning Has Broken," gorgeously.

"I really enjoyed this," Yusuf said near the end of the show. "If I'd known I would enjoy it this much, I might not have stayed away so long."

And I know I speak for most people when I say that we are glad he came back.

 

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