– by Carla Avendano
Darren Coggan began with an introduction to a young Cat Stevens life, he placed the audience in the time, in the era where it all began. The lighting was set at The Astor which complimented the story unfolding out in song through the interpretation of Darren Coggan. A pre recorded ‘Butterflies’ filled the theater while an anticipating audience quietly sat waiting to be submerged in the story that was about to begin. Taken back by such a voice, truly identical to Cat Stevens very own, Darren belted out ‘Moonshadow’. Now even though the Australian Country singer-songwriter physically doesn’t resemble the very well known icon at all his voice was spot on hitting the notes just as Cat Stevens did in his performing days.
Darren gave the audience a story to remember, he was so passionate and enthusiastic about telling it you couldn’t help but get wrapped up and taken back. ‘First Cut Is The Deepest’ clearly taking the audience back to a time remembering their first loves, ‘Cant Keep It In‘ and the very old school ‘I Love My Dog’ soon followed the crowd still taken back by just how similar his voice is to the legendary Cat Stevens. ‘Mathew and Son’ had the crowd join in for a sing along, ‘Wild World’ another favourite all being performed by Darren on the acoustic guitar and joining him on stage on the piano Daniel Murray. So many great classics were performed in the first set of the amazing tribute.
Besides giving a fantastic vocal performance, Darren kept the audience captured by his energy on stage there wasn’t a dull moment or an awkward pause to catch his breath he gave it his all, he gave dates and history about what Cat Stevens was going through while these songs were being released and what was really going on in Stevens life while his career was unfolding, the demons he battled and close-to-death calls he had, it was interesting and showed that no matter how much you think you know there’s always more behind the glitz and glam of the music industry. Finishing the first set with the beautiful ‘Father and Son’ you couldn’t help sing along or get a little teary eyed, this song really touches the soul with its meaning.
After a short interval and a wardrobe change, Darren Coggan was welcomed back on stage by the pleased crowd eager to get the second half of the story. ‘The Wind’, ‘Sitting’ and ‘Hard Headed Woman’ were the first few performed in the second half of the set but this part of the story was more about Cat Stevens transition from his music career to his spiritual path. After almost dying twice, Stevens had been given a third opportunity and he decided he had found peace in Islam, Stevens is now known as Yusef Islam. ‘Never Wanted to be a Star’, ‘Sad Lisa’ and ‘Morning Has Broken’ all sure fire hits with the crowd and Darren still maintaining the same energy he had started the show of with. Finishing off with ‘Where do the Children Play’ just as Stevens did in his final performance at the 1979 UNICEF Benefit concert, Darren unplugged his guitar and left the stage a metaphor for when Cat Stevens unplugged himself from the music industry. The audience cheered and applauded loudly at the great story that had been told but they wanted an encore, Darren returned on stage and pleased the crowd dedicating his favourite Cat Stevens song to his wife ‘How Can I Tell You’ and finished off with what he described as a legacy to all ‘Peace Train’.
By far a great storyteller and performer, Darren Coggan pays a great tribute, throughout his brilliant performance he definitely pleased the crowd with telling a beautiful story of Cat Stevens.
Photo Credit: Matthew Picken