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March 19, 2010

Los Angeles, California

El Rey Theatre

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Set list:

Main set:

01. Sunshine Superman

02. Wear Your Love Like Heaven

03. The Voice Of Protest

04. Season Of The Witch

05. Dragon In The Sky

06. Living On Love

07. Catch The Wind

08. Slow Down World

09. Lalena

10. Universal Soldier

11. Earthquake View

12. Sadness

13. Mellow Yellow

14. Yellow Star

15. Hurdy Gurdy Man

16. Atlantis

Encore:

Isle Of Islay

Review:

Thanks to the live online streaming, provided by the DLF website, we could enjoy last night's concert in Los Angeles, the second that Donovan offers free on the Internet. The set list was rather unusual, with the well-known hits but also some quite rare songs. Donovan was accompanied by a band and his daughter Astrella Celeste in the majority of the songs, although there were some acoustic solo moments.

Before Donovan's concert there were other performances by the support bands Everyboy and Blessed Le Strange, an auction for a date with actor Matthew St. Patrick that reached $750, and a video about the DLF program for Trascendental Meditation in Schools. After that, David Lynch himself presented Donovan, who appeared on stage around 9:30 PM (Los Angeles time).

Donovan opened the concert with his classic Sunshine Superman, backed by the band that would accompany him on most of the songs. Ruby Friedman did great background vocals and Matt Costa sang part of the song.

Donovan singing Sunshine Superman


Then Donovan's daughter Astrella Celeste appeared on stage to sing with his father Wear Your Love Like Heaven, in which Donovan didn't played guitar. He's not used to sing without playing guitar and you could tell because it looked like he didn't know quite what to do with his hands.

The first surprise of the night was The Voice Of Protest, from the 1974 LP 7-Tease, an album that Donovan usually forgets to revisit at his concerts. A great performance by the band and by Donovan, and a real treat for the true fans.

Season Of The Witch followed, always with great background vocals by Ruby Friedman. Astrella also joined to sing, as well as Lawrence Juber, guitarist of Paul McCartney's band.

The second surprise of the concert was an unreleased song called Dragon In The Sky in which Amrita Sen played the harmonium and sang part of the lyrics. Amrita Sen also accompanied Donovan with harmonium and vocals on the next song Living On Love, also unreleased.

Amrita Sen and Donovan singing Dragon In The Sky

 

At the beginning of Catch The Wind it looked like Donovan had some problems with the guitar. That was the impression throughout the whole concert: he tuned it more than usual between songs and he never looked completely satisfied. But everything returned to normal and Lawrence Juber joined him. Poe sang part of the song and Astrella did background vocals. Before Donovan started the next song Poe and Astrella took a glass jar and asked the audience to "make wind" waving their hands, and tried to fill the jar with it. They closed it and gave it to Donovan: finally, after more than 40 years, Donovan managed to catch the wind! That was a surprise for Donovan of which he didn't know about.

Catch The Wind with Poe and Astrella

Donovan and Poe

 

To introduce the next song Donovan talked about the 60's: "The whole thing about the 60's was, 'turn off your mind, relax and float downstream'. And people said, 'what the hell is he talking about?' ". Then Slow Down World began, a great version of the song from the 1976 eponymous album, with Astrella singing part of the lyrics. It was another great surprise for the real fans because it's a great song from an era not usually included in his concerts, which should do more often.

Lalena, beautiful as always, featured Jerry Vivino on the flute, giving a wonderful touch to the song.

Donovan then turned to another of his classics, Universal Soldier, a song by Buffy Sainte-Marie, which he played alone on guitar, as usual.

Although Donovan warned he doesn't usually play blues, the next song, the unreleased Earthquake View, from the era of the Slow Down World album, was a fantastic performance, with great backing vocals by Ruby Friedman and the terrific accompaniment of the whole band, especially Jerry Vivino on saxophone, Scott Healy on piano and Bob Forrest on mandolin.

Poe returned on stage to accompany Donovan in a wonderful version of the lullaby Sadness, from the 7-Tease album, singing some new background vocals. Once again, Jerry Vivino stood out playing the soprano sax. Donovan introduced the song saying it was from the Cosmic Wheels album; maybe he was confused because he probably wrote it around the time of Cosmic Wheels but he didn't release a studio version until almost two years later, in November 1974, on the 7-Tease LP (although a live version appeared on the Live In Japan album, in 1973).

Poe and Donovan singing Sadness

 

The other musical child of Donovan, Donovan Jr., joined his father for the first time on a stage to sing the inevitable Mellow Yellow, also with Matt Sorum. At the end of the song Donovan Jr. hugged his father.

Donovan Jr. joined in Mellow Yellow

Father and son

 

Donovan introduced Jack Maness on guitar, to play the reggae song Yellow Star, from the 1973 album Essence To Essence, saying it was Maness who chose the song (thank you Jack!). Jack also sang part of the lyrics.

Donovan then started talking about his visit to India with the Beatles, so the next song was Hurdy Gurdy Man. Although Donovan had announced in a previous interview that Slash would be playing the electric guitar solo in this song, it was finally Danny Saber, of Alice Cooper's band, who played it, and very well indeed. Astrella and Ruby did the backing vocals and Matt Sorum of Guns N' Roses played drums on a very powerful version of the song.

Jack Maness on the right, on Yellow Star

Danny Saber, solo on Hurdy Gurdy Man

 

The end of the concert was near and the chords of Atlantis began, while Donovan thanked the support bands. For this last song all the musicians took the stage, including Donovan Jr. and Astrella, to sing the tremendous outro.

Everybody singing Atlantis

 

As an encore, Donovan came out again, completely alone this time, to play Isle Of Islay. Again it looked like he had some problems with the guitar: he played it almost horizontal and seemed forced to shorten the central guitar solo.

Once Donovan left the stage, a charity auction was held for a 5-hour private meeting with Donovan, in which he offered to talk on any topic, musical or private, with the winner. The auction began with $2500 and reached $4500. There was another auction for a coffee with David Lynch at his house, which started with $1000 and ended in $2000.

In general, a great concert, thanks largely to the extraordinary collaboration of the band and all the guest musicians. A concert quite different from what Donovan usually has done in the last years; quite different from the concert he gave in Munich last January. Although Donovan is a great solo artist, every time that he has been accompanied by a band or by guest musicians, his concerts are even more impressive. If we add to that a setlist with songs that are not normally part of his live repertoire or even totally unknown songs, then we have an unforgettable concert. Thanks to DLF.TV for the opportunity to enjoy this magnificent concert.

Trivia:

· This was the second Donovan concert broadcast online.

· It was a benefit concert organized by the David Lynch Foundation, to help introduce Transcendental Meditation into schools.

· For the first time Donovan is joined by two of his children on stage: Astrella Celeste (also Linda Lawrence's daughter) and Donovan Leitch Jr. (his son with American model Enid Stulberger).

· There were VIP tickets for sale that included meeting and greeting with Donovan after the concert. Regular tickets cost $25, while the VIP passes went up to $110.

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