Donovan, Vintage Review
In 1968 Donovan was a global superstar on a par with the Beatles. He joined them in India when they studied Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mehash Yogi. As with all major tours in the 60s he came to Brighton. Stadium only tours did not exist and provincial towns had the opportunity to see the biggest names live in local venues.
Donovan was a troubadour in the purest sense. He had thrown off the Dylan comparisons and proved himself to be an individual artist in his own right. His music and lyrics were more ethereal and related to nature in the traditional folk style. But, he could also rock with an electric backing band and use the full range of state of the art studio wizardry available when required.
At the Dome Donovan cut a small and solitary figure when he took the stage for the acoustic songs but his performance and personality soon filled the auditorium. His lyrics where delivered with a vocal clarity that allowed the audience to enjoy the poetry and see the pictures they painted. There was an innocence and child-like quality to many of the songs. They fitted perfectly with the era of flower power, love, equality and anti-capitalism. This was a gentle, relaxing and mellow acoustic set, bright guitar sounds picked and strummed as Donovan delivered the stories of isles, enchantment, gulls and tinkers. The audience wanted to be taken on a magical journey and our minstrel obliged. In between the songs Donovan liked to weave the stories behind the songs. He told tales of when and where the songs were composed, the inspiration for them and some of the romance of his travels and wanderings.
When the backing band took the stage with him they played as only a tight knit rock band can. They took the lead from Donovan, perfectly showcasing his ability to work in the folk/rock genre. Although very much considered a folk singer Donovan did effortlessly cross over into rock and produced some progressive rock work such as ‘Sunshine Superman’ and ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’. Donovan did not attract just folk purists but appealed to a wide audience who enjoyed all his work.
If memory serves the gig included ‘Catch the Wind’, ‘Colours’, ‘Sunshine Superman’, ‘Mellow Yellow’ plus the following songs from a ‘Gift From A Flower To A Garden’. ‘Wear Your Love Like Heaven’, ‘Skip-A-Long Sam’, ‘Little Boy in Corduroy’, ‘Song Of The Naturalist’s Wife’, ‘Isle Of Islay’, ‘Lay Of The Last Tinker’, ‘The Tinker’ and ‘The Crab And Starfish-On-The-Toast’.
For one evening at the Dome we were taken on a journey to lands of make believe peopled by mysterious folks and enchanted creatures. We were entertained with stories full of magic and humour. We experienced a unique talent and a beautiful human being who just wanted to share life and love with us all.
Donovan, Brighton Dome 1968