Legendary singer introduced onstage by U2's Bono
Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens played a rare intimate gig in London last night (May 27).
The singer-songwriter headlined at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire as part of the series of Island Life gigs taking place at the venue this week to mark the 50th anniversary of label Island Records.
Introduced onstage by U2 frontman Bono, who variously described Islam as a “poet, pilgrim, guitar picker, natty dresser, iconoclast”, the legend took to the stage with two guitarist, a bassist, keyboards but no drummer.
“Tonight is a magic night,” the singer-songwriter told the crowd as he played a set that drew heavily from his early recordings, which following his conversion to Islam in 1977, he had overlooked for a time.
Playing the likes of ‘Lilywhite’ and ‘Where Do Children Play’, Islam told the audience that he had “grown to love singing” several of his older songs again.
Later he dedicated a version of ‘Wild World’ to his grandchildren, who were in the audience, before joking about being refused entry to the US on a 2004 trip, brandishing a “Wanted” poster he “found on my last trip to Washington airport” before ‘Boots And Sand’.
Performing ‘Father And Son’ to a loud sing-a-long and a standing ovation, Islam joked that he had meant to play the song in his encore.
“I supposed to go off, but I forgot,” he quipped. He finally left the stage after that song, but returned to round off the night with ‘Peace Train’.
Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens played:
‘Don’t Be Shy’
‘Where The Children Play’
‘Thinkin’ About You The Rain’
‘Just Another Night’
‘Miles From Nowhere’
‘Be What You Must’
‘Boots And Sand’
‘Father And Son’
Earlier in the evening Baaba Maal had played, ending his set with a surprise appearance from U2.