Thursday, 13 May 2010

Don McLean in Concert

It was over 40 years ago when we first went to see Don McLean in concert. The second time was about ten years ago at the Kings and last night the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow.
The first time, Jacqui reminds me, was for our 7th wedding anniversary when we saw him at The Glasgow Apollo Theatre sadly now demolished (and before you say it NO, it wisnae us, although we did our best on the night with a bunch of other juveniles :o{

The Apollo was so large an auditorium and we were so far away from the stage somewhere up in the darkest reaches of the gods that there were times when we could hardly hear anything let alone know that the tiny wee figure in the distance was in fact McLean. It could have been anybody and just playing records for all we knew.

So, I remember, we jumped around the seats having our own party.
All good fun but a million years and a million miles away from then, The RGCH, is much more civilised. And this time I got us very good seats. How the times have changed and what a difference having some spondoolies in my pocket.

Now these fantastic seats were not in the front row as you might expect for a big spender like me (believe it!) but up to one side so I could see the performers in profile. I have drawn hundreds of performers in action and usually I see them direct from the front so, for a change, getting a side view was important to me.

We were in early to hear the support act, a lassie from Camden in London, Lesley Rowley, who has the clearest and most beautiful voice which soared out across the auditorium:

A young singer/songwriter and great to listen to playing some good acoustic guitar. When I come to paint her I will definitely remember her richly dark red hair, a godsend for an avowed colourist!

For this fantastic support act the seats in front were, of course, empty. Some people appear to have tunnel vision when it comes to listening to anyone who isn't the headline act. And tunnel vision is what I needed when they finally arrived. How is it that in a hall of a few thousand people I get the biggest lad in front of me with sticky-out ears?:

It was only when he turned to one side that I could see anything through his lug-holes let alone draw!

But, even when the lights went down, trouper that I am, I managed to get some sketching done, that is while singing my heid aff to all the songs I love:

Winterwood, Crossroads, Empty Chairs, all from the American Pie album (which I bought way back when, in vinyl, and still treasure) building up to the whole auditorium belting out American Pie at least twice, after my very favourite of all time, Vincent.

"..You took your life as lovers often do,
but I could have told you, Vincent,
this world was never meant
for one as beautiful as you".

Here I am, misting up again as I write it!

And no wonder. When Jacqui and I got married the best I could do was to take us down to Rothesay, on the Island of Bute (just doon the watter from Glasgow) for our honeymoon. It wasn't till the following year, as a young student of architecture at the Glasgow School of Art, that I got a student offer to travel to Amsterdam. There we got to see van Goghs paintings in the flesh, so to speak, and were blown away, all the time singing McLeans song in our heads. And that was without any "grass" which is a whole other story (while walking in a park one day nursing hang-overs on cheap wine and Heinekin, a bloke comes up to us and says "Would you like to buy some grass?". Jacqui, ever the naive, says "get lost, we don't even have a garden!". Now you know why I married her :o)

Here's a second go at the man himself:

And the drummer:

The bass player:

Lead guitar:

And the drummer again, with all his equipment in front of him:

I can already see how all these sketches will come together in one composition. But that is for another day.


Sheila Vaughan said...

Crikey, Don McLean - yes, those were the days. Agree, Vincent is still one of my favourites.. Starry, starry night,,, now you've got me going. I am amazed that you did so much sketching David. Do you always do that when you go for a night out? I love your figure paintings by the way.

Melinda said...

Whoo-hoo. I love your sketches! How did you do so many during the concert?!

Love, love, love the one of the man sitting in front of you. It's always the way, eh?

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Whoo-hoo yersel' Melinda!

And "Crikey", Sheila (love that word - a blast from the past!)

It's a very good question you both put to me, and I've thought about it all day (and also before) but I still don't really know the answer: Why do I draw so much throughout a performance?

The short answer first to Sheila is: yes, I always sketch while I am watching live performance. I have always done it. It may be something to do with the moment. As you probably already know I love Life Drawing, the immediacy of it, the testing of one's skill right there, right then. I can't get away from it.
It's also probably got something to do with having already paid the entrance fee I want to get my moneys worth and having live models (mostly) standing still in front of me triggers the pencil oot the pocket and the wee A6 pad opening to a new page!

It wasn't the case here, Melinda, but usually (as I think I may have said elsewhere) sketching keeps me amused, especially if the production is somewhat boring. I therefore think that even when the music is highly entertaining, all this standing around singing into a static mike freaks me out. I NEED to be doing something, and if I can't be dancing at least I can be drawing.
Does any of that make sense?
If it does then please let me know and my life will be complete :o)

ps to Sheila:
"...Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflecting Vincent's eyes of China blue". There you go again!
Is it my semi-abstract figurative stuff you've been looking at? (for you seem to be search for the same thing).

Brian McGurgan said...

Great sketches, David, and an enjoyable post to read all-around. I was hearing "Vincent" in my head when visiting the van Gogh exhibit "Colors of the Night" at the MOMA a year or two back...

Melinda said...

Absolutely! Right on, bro! I get it. All these years I've mostly avoided live performances because of the things you describe. I get fidgety. If I ever get talked into going to one in the future, I'll now take the moleskine.

We had the privilege of seeing Monet's work at the Clark a few years ago and I enjoyed the work then by drawing what I saw, but didn't connect the dots, so to speak, as you have.

You're brilliant...Okay, now, settle down. You know you are. I'll trust your wife to keep you from floating too high with this news, but otherwise, Onward!

Sheila Vaughan said...

David, thanks for the explanation. I guess I can see where you are coming from but can't empathise in that sketching for me is a somewhat stressful experience. Lord knows why. Also I don't go to live performances because I am as deaf as a post these days (I mean literally) so no point. I can still sing in my head though no problem. I am working with a new figure drawing/painting group tonight so that should get me in the right mood. Yes, it's your abstract figure stuff I was referring to. Original and refreshingly personal. Like the evolutionary aspects.