it turns out that i've been motivated to write sooner than i thought. the inspiration is the wonderful yusuf islam (or the artist formerly known as cat stevens). what follows is going to be a gushing fangirl review of the concert i attended in auckland last night. if you're not interested in that kind of thing, now would be a good time to find something else to read!
i've never been to a concert in my life - at least not one i've paid for. i've been to things like the sunset symphony at the hamilton gardens, and part of the free concert that stan walker put on in garden place. but i have never paid out my hard earned cash to go to see a recording artist perform in a stadium. yet the minute i heard that yusuf islam was playing in auckland, i couldn't wait to get my hands on tickets.
i've known his music since childhood, being one of those forced to sing "morning is broken" at school, and seeing "remember the days of the old school yard" endlessly on tv when i was little. other songs i'd not associated with him until later, like "first cut is the deepest", "another saturday night" and "wild world", because they had also been made famous by other artists covering them.
it was more in my later teenage years and my early twenties that i became a fan. of course his conversion to islam was a major factor in that. i'd seen video documentaries and several speeches by him so came to know him more as a person (at least in terms of what he was prepared to share publicly) before i was really interested in his music. everything i've heard from him and of him pointed to him being a pretty amazing person.
so of course i didn't think twice about going to the concert. i took the girls as well, cos his "best of" cd is the one they listen to the most in the car, and they love his music just as much as i do. i felt safe about taking them, because i knew the values he espouses are so close to our own that i wouldn't have to worry about any material that would be objectionable to, say, a 12 year old.
and it was brilliant, one of the best experiences of my life. i really can't rave about it enough. the music was beautiful, the stories and the sharing really special, the gentle humour just added to the magic. there was a great mix of old and new songs, and he has definitely hasn't lost his touch. his voice was as sweet as it always was, the songs as relevant today as they were when they first came out.
the most poignant moment of the concert for me was watching him sing father and son. because now he is 62 years old, with grey hair and beard, and of course he fits the role of father now rather than the role of the son which was more suited to him when the song first came out. it marked the passage of time so clearly, and brought home to me what an incredible journey his life has been (and will hopefully continue to be for many, many years yet inshaAllah).
i'm not sure if many people know, but he stopped taking money from royalties of his commercial music pretty soon after he became a muslim. all of that money goes to charity. i also know that he put a lot of money and effort into helping victims of the serbian/bosnian conflict. even the proceeds of his concert last night are "going to a good cause", in his words last night, though he didn't tell us what the cause was. which is natural, as charity should be given in the quietest way possible.
well, there wasn't an empty seat in vector arena last night. and the noise, the singing and cheering were absolutely awesome. i had a sore throat and and very sore hands and arms myself, and i sure wasn't the loudest person there! i'm really not a musical person, so i can't really give any kind of decent review of the music itself - for that, you can read this. i did think that last night's version of "tuesday's dead" was better than the recorded version. but it all sounded great to me.
his namesake, the original yusuf (the prophet Joseph) was especially known for two things: his great physical beauty and the purity of his character. this yusuf has both in abundance, and i feel privileged to have shared two hours of his life last night. peace be with you, yusuf islam.