JIMMY PAGE JOINS DONOVAN LIVE ON STAGE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL
Jimmy Page made his first live UK appearance in three years last night when he joined 60’s folk rock legend Donovan at his Sunshine Superman performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Dave Lewis files this exclusive on the spot report for TBL.
In a move that mirrored the events of 21 years ago (see latest DL Diary entry), at very short notice yesterday afternoon I zipped in to London to attend Donovans’ Sunshine Superman performance at the Royal Albert Hall.
The first half of the show saw the 1960’s folk rock legend running through some of his greatest hits. He commenced proceedings with acoustic performances of Catch The Wind, Colours and Buffy St Marie’s Universal Soldier. He was then joined by the London Contemporary Orchestra conducted by John Cameron and soon had the receptive crowd with him every step of the way as he ran through Jennifer Juniper, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Goo Goo Barabajagal,There Is A Mountain and Mellow yellow.
The second half featured the complete performance of his 1966 album Sunshine Superman. Early in this part of the set he explained how he began recording the record in 1965 in Abbey Road Studios with a young session guitarist – ‘and it’s great to have him here tonight- please welcome Jimmy Page’’
Jimmy entered stage right dressed in black shirt to a rapturous reception. Strapping on a Gibson Black Les Paul Custom with Bigsby arm (possibly the one he used on For Your Life at the 02 reunion), he accompanied Donovan on the track Sunshine Superman. Strumming along on the descending chord sequence he then opened up with a neat solo as the chorus came in. Smiling and waving to the crowd he then left the stage. Donovan went on to perform the entire album accompanied by the orchestra and guests including Shawn Phillips on sitar and his son Donovan jr.
Before performing the uplifting finale of Atlantis, Donovan acknowledged the band and guests and Jimmy briefly came on to take the applause. That appeared to be the end of the evening but as the crowd gave Donovan a standing ovation he remained on stage and announced they were going to reprise the title track and once again Jimmy entered proceedings strapping on the Gibson as they once again ran through the jaunty Sunshine Superman with all and sundry on stage.
This was the cue for the TBL editor to make something of a Who/Kids Are Alright leap of faith from the stalls area down to the front and very soon I found myself directly in front of Donovan and Jimmy at the front of the stage. It was a tremendous thrill to be in such close proximity to the guitarist – not unlike the view I had in Cologne on the Over Europe tour all of 31 years ago this month.
After a triumphant Sunshine Superman, they all remained on stage for a rousing reprise of Mellow Yellow – this had Jimmy running through the strutting rhythm of the song smiling at Donovan and leading into a solo. Finally at the close of it all, Donovan and Jimmy embraced and they ambled off stage right as the crowd bayed for yet more.
This time it was all over.
To summarise: It was an absolute joy to see Jimmy Page once again adorn a stage with guitar in hand. He looked relaxed and full of smiles throughout. It was a real privilege to be in attendance at this celebration of the music of Donovan – a legendary folk/rock artist who in acknowledging his heritage, inspired a unique reunion with the guitarist who first lit up his Sunshine Superman album back in the mid 1960s.
‘’They call me mellow yellow – quite rightly”.
It’s that refrain that will be ringing in my ears all weekend as I recall the memorable events of the night Jimmy Page returned to a UK stage.
Dave Lewis – June 4th, 2011