At The Tabernacle
Donovan Live At The Tabernacle (photo: Tammy)

Donovan Live At The Tabernacle October 5, 2002


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The set list:

  • The Enchanted Gypsy
  • Catch the Wind
  • Little Tin Soldier
  • Colours
  • Ballad of Geraldine
  • Josie
  • Universal Soldier
  • Gold Watch Blues
  • Jennifer Juniper
  • Young Girl Blues
  • Wear Your Love Like Heaven
  • Hurdy Gurdy Man
  • The Promise
  • Only the Blues
 
  • Refugee of Love
  • Intergalactic Laxative
  • Love So Real
  • Hey Gyp
  • Susan on the West Coast Waiting
  • Lalena
  • Sunshine Superman
  • Season of the Witch
  • Mellow Yellow


  • (Encore)
  • Atlantis
  • There Is a Mountain
  • Barabajagal


Richard Barone Opens the Show

Richard Barone
Richard Barone (photo: Schmidt)

 

A surprise: The day before the show, when he was picked up at the airport, Donovan unexpectedly asked for a support act. More, he specifically asked for Richard Barone (who was with the Bongos back in the 80s). Sure enough, Barone opened for Don, with a stirring run of songs: The Bulrushes; Clouds Over Eden; Yet Another Midnight (a new song). As he performed, I found myself thinking I had not paid enough attention to the Bongos back when. He closed with Numbers with Wings, a deeply moving and rather Donovanesque song: great lyrics, excellent guitar and a sweet, strong voice.

Barone is an old Donovan fan, having recorded Guinevere on his album Between Heaven and Cello in 1997. As noted on his web site, he and Donovan followed the evening's performance with "an all-night jam session." Here's the photo which is featured on Barone's web site and which was taken by our own LadyO:

Donovan and Richard Barone Jamming


Donovan Takes the Stage

Donovan with Kelly
Donovan on stage At The Tabernacle (photo: Mike Zarro)

The set list appears above, but that only reveals the sequence of songs--26 in all! It's been said so often before, but "you hadda be there!" It was mesmerizing. I've seen Donovan on stage at least 7 times in 31 years, from a classic Music Hall Boston 1971 show with Paul Horn (when I mentioned this show to him, Donovan commented, "you could not see the stage for the clouds of marijuana") to the Boston Whole Health Expo a few years back, but I don't think he's ever sounded better.

concert photo
Donovan on stage (photo: Gantley)

 

concert photo
Donovan on stage (photo: Gantley)

The Enchanted Gypsy was a thrilling opening--always one of my favorite songs, but with a vocal rendition which was truly wonderful. He added a vocalization between verses which rivals the best Tuvan or Tibetan Buddhist singers, a powerful, hypnotic effect. Then he performed seven early folk classics, and I think that, for him, this was perhaps the high point of the evening, as he really seemed to enjoy revisiting these classic songs. The Ballad of Geraldine--wow. Never knew this was such a powerful song.

concert photo
Donovan on stage (photo: Gantley)

 

concert photo
Donovan on stage (photo: Gantley)

And then came the long-expected string of the hits, interspersed with a few lesser-known and new songs. Perhaps he's a bit tired of reprising the hits for the one millionth time, but he was energetic and really got into the audience singing along with him. On nearly all the hits, and several other well-known songs, he kept encouraging the audience to sing along--not that he had to, we were right there with him.

A few high points for me included Young Girl Blues, Intergalactic Laxative (where he indicated the "anti-gravity pee" on the loose with wide sweeps of his arms), Only the Blues, The Promise, Lover Lover (wait for this one!), Hey Gyp, Hurdy Gurdy Man (doing Jimmy Page's electric lead vocally!) and an acoustic Season of the Witch. This last put me in mind of the first time I saw him in concert in 1971, when he and Paul Horn played Season of the Witch--a song then known not only for Donovan's heavy electric version but also the 11-minute-long Al Kooper/Steve Stills cover, the cover by Brian Auger and Trinity, and another by the Vanilla Fudge--on acoustic guitar and flute. It was wholly captivating, and he did it once again.

Donovan with Kelly closeup
Donovan and Kelly (photo: Mike)

He played Kelly (his 7-year-old Kelly-green guitar) throughout, and it sounded great. I mean, his guitar work was fine, but the guitar itself sounds so rich. He told us the story of Kelly, too, how seven years ago he went to Danny Ferrington, one of the world's finest luthiers, and asked him to make a guitar based on the Irish Book of Kells, which he showed Danny. Of course he could, and the result is a magnificent instrument, with Kelly green soundboard, sides made of red rowan, and back of the fret board made of lapis lazuli (all sacred woods and materials in the Celtic tradition). Kelly is inlaid with many symbols from the Book of Kells, with the stag featured prominently beneath the sound hole and runes representing the Norse invading Ireland on the fret board. Donovan said that, at first, Kelly would only play Irish or Scots music, so he had to fool it into playing his style, too. So he and Kelly wrote their first song together, "one half Irish, one half Scots, and one half Donovan," which he proceeded to sing. This was the lovely "Love So Real," which will likely appear on his new album, Beatnik Cafe. (Note: on other occasions, Donovan has said that "The Promise was the song he tricked Kelly with, so only the singer-songwriter knows for sure.)

Donovan on stage
Donovan on stage (photo: Mike)

 

Donovan on stage
Donovan on stage (photo: Mike)

My sense of time that evening is nonexistent; memory tells me Donovan played for an hour and a half, though it felt like three hours which nonetheless went by way too fast. In any event, he was in rare voice and played beautifully, returning to the stage for a rousing encore, with a wonderful rendition of Barabajagal to cap the evening. I love Donovan's electric, rock sound--after all, this is the man who engaged Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham as sidemen prior to the forming of Led Zepplin, who rocked out with the Jeff Beck Group, who on Open Road effectively invented Celtic Rock, and whose Sunshine Superman was the first truly psychedelic album of the 1960s--but his acoustic guitar and vocal renditions of classic songs in some ways transcend the originals. This was true of Hurdy Gurdy Man, where he "sang" Jimmy Page's electric guitar part, and on Goo Goo Barabajagal, where the poem in the middle of the song sent shivers down my spine in kundalini colors, "multicolor run down over your body / and the liquid passing all into all," indeed!

More photos in the Photo Gallery.






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