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Peace Train-more musical impression than pale impersonation
Peace Train – the Cat Stevens Story – is more concert than tribute show, more impression than impersonation. Apart from the cheesecloth shirt, Darren Coggan makes no attempt at capturing Cat Steven's tousled-haired doe-eyed appearance. But give him a guitar and a song to sing and it's another matter altogether.
From Stevens' first appearance in 1964 at London's Black Horse Inn to his final appearance as the Cat in December 1979, Darren Coggan channels the great man every time he opens his mouth to sing. And sing he does. 25 – count 'em – of Cat Stevens' greatest hits were played on opening night to an adoring audience of baby boomers remembering their days in the old school yard.
Coggan's low-key entrance on stage sets the scene for what is to come: two and a half hours of Cat Stevens' hits interspersed with a re-telling of his bio by a man whose sweet and true voice could have belonged to the artist formerly known as Steven Georgiou (now Yusuf Islam). His backing band are more domestic animal than party animal – more tabby than cool cats – but what they lack in stage presence they make up for in musicality. By show's end they were really beginning to purr.
The audience is taken on a journey that starts at the Moulin Rouge restaurant in London and ends up somewhere in the Middle East, by way of America, Brazil and even (briefly) Australia. It's a nostalgia trip and a fun musical ride. So hurry up and hop on board the Peace Train at the Arts centre Playhouse – the season ends Sunday August 3.