When the weather’s good outdoor shows are memory making. But when your feet are waterlogged and you’re drinking from a plastic cup that’s full of wine and rainwater such events are, more often than not, a test of endurance. So it was on Saturday night at Roche Estate when Yusuf / Cat Stevens delivered a captivating and at times candid performance for those of us that endured.
We took our seats about 40 minutes before the show kicked off, just in time for a good solid downpour. It wasn’t long before our wine turned to water and a small “river” formed beneath out feet. Ponchos were worn with little effect, our legs acted as waterfalls into our gum boots and the packet of cigarettes the guy next to us pulled out looked more like tobacco soup in a box.
But it didn’t seem to matter, we were all there for one reason and we weren’t gonna leave until we got it. So it was fitting, and perhaps a little divine, that as the 69 year old Yusuf took to the stage the rain reduced to a drizzle and eventually stopped all together.
Something happens to a large group of people when they collectively endure the elements to obtain a common goal – We were drenched in solidarity. And rather than giving people an opportunity to be selfish the rain seemed to bring everyone together. People seemed friendlier and more willing to lend a hand and have a chat.
People getting along made the whole drenching a lot easier to deal with, but (and this is our only criticism of the night) a support band would have helped too. Although the joke wasn’t lost on anyone when the randomiser on the sound guys Spotify playlist selected Jimmy Cliff’s I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Has Gone.
When you’ve grown up listening to Cat Steven’s records, the sound of that voice can transport you back in time. On Saturday night, Yusuf’s voice sounded just like the Cat we all loved and remembered – humble yet full of power and at times angst.
Early highlights include set opener Wild World, hug inducing Oh Very Young and a reggae version of (Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard. Later in the set we were treated to a rocking version of Matthew and Son, Sad Lisa, a crowd sing-along for Moonshadow, and a new track See What Love Did to Me from the songwriter’s latest release, The Laughing Apple.
Then it was time for the big guns… Father and Son, Peace Train, Morning Has Broken, Another Saturday Night and Can’t Keep It In all come in quick succession with a small “walk off walk on encore” in the middle for good measure.
Then it was all over, and while we all wanted more, no one was unfulfilled. We had all boarded the Peace Train back to a time when a Cat Steven’s song helped make sense of the world we shared and we were richer inside for the experience.