When a concert happens there will usually be a headliner and an opening act. Statistically, the opening act draws about half the house. The rest of the crowd is either still on the road to the show or too busy socializing in the parking lot or lobby. Last night, October 25, 2014 at the hKeswick Theater in Glenside Pa. 90 percent of the seats were filled waiting for Al Stewart to take the stage. The reason is simple, Stewart is that big of a draw that he could sell out this place by himself and play with no opening act. In fact, he should.
During his time at the Keswick, Stewart wasted his time. “I did something tonight I never do, I made a set list. I left it in my dressing room, can someone please go run and get it”, he joked from the stage. His tour manager did. Stewart played “Carol” from it and then deviated from it to take requests. Making that set list was a total waste of time indeed. Part of an Al Stewart show is listening to him regale the audience of the stories behind the music. When Al headlines, he gets to talk more. When he speaks, he does not shout at the crowd. He speaks to them like one woulds peak to another in a living room. The crowd listens, not polity, but attentively. They are learning from Stewart as he can so eloquently impart his wisdom and entertain the crowd at the same time.
“There are about 400 to 500 songs I’ve written and only recorded about half of them”, Stewart said during a recent interview. A headline show would enable him to breakout the vault and do those songs. Last night, Stewart was opening for Renaissance. Neither artist gets much commercial airplay except for “Year of the Cat” and the occasional “Time Passages”. from Stewart. Still they both managed to do well attendance wise.
Stewart was onstage with his guitar and no other musicians. That limited the songs he could play. He did “Soho” which he called a rap song. He joked on stage that he cannot sing. The entire crowd would disagree. He also told about how he was speaking with Jimmy Page prior to Led Zeppelin. “I’m forming a band, I need a bass player”, Page said to Stewart. Stewart then replied “Good luck”.
The crowd for this show was older. More reserved. They sat in their seats , standing only when Stewart and Renaissance were finished their sets. There was a paid meet and greet for Renaissance for $50.00 which is very reasonable. You get to attend the sound check, get an autographed laminate plus meet the band. During the intermission Al Stewart .met his fans in the lobby. Yes, he was selling CD’s and posters. Handshakes were free and he would sign anything, no purchase was required.
During Stewart’s set, he would check his watch to insure he was not running over. Unfortunate, his watch did not stop and he limited his time to about 50 minutes. He is no stranger to this area. Go see him when he returns. It will be an evening you will not soon forget.