And the Cat came back

Cat Stevens' songs live on in deeply personal tribute

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HIS MUSE: Darren Coggan and the man who inspires him, Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), pictured at a recent performance.

HIS MUSE: Darren Coggan and the man who inspires him, Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), pictured at a recent performance.

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"I do love this show and never tire of performing the songs," says singer Darren Coggan.

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There is something timeless about the music of Cat Stevens, the British singer-songwriter of the 1970s and '80s who recorded such memorable hits as Peace Train, Moonshadow, Morning Has Broken, Where Do The Children Play and Father and Son.

For many, his music is as fresh today as it was when the London restaurant owner's son first burt into the spotlight.

Stevens has never been far from performer Darren Coggan's heart. As the star of Remember The Days of Cat Stevens,, the singer has received plaudits galore for his travelling tribute to his hero.

For the past decade he has toured some of the world's great theatres, such as Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, Glasgow Concert Hall and Liverpool Philharmonic, embodying the work of Stevens.

He was even invited to meet the prolific songwriter himself.

Coggan has carved an impressive career in the Australian country music industry, winning a clutch of Golden Guitar awards.

He says it is a privilege to pay homage to Stevens' music.

"[His] songs say something, ask questions, make statements, they have intelligent, poetic lyrics, and musically, while simplistic in presentation, they are very complex and always fun and challenging to perform.

"I do love this show and never tire of performing the songs. I love how I can continue to find new interpretations of his lyrics.

"I love seeing the reaction from the audience each night and seeing them all stand up with an ovation - something I'll never take for granted."

In creating Remember The Days of Cat Stevens, Coggins felt a weight of responsibility to do justice to Stevens' music and his story.

"The performance is very intimate and personal and the inclusion on this tour of a stringed quartet will bring another beautiful dimension to these already exquisite songs," Coggan said.

"There are some personal reflections on the experience I had being invited to London to meet with the great Cat Stevens in 2007, where I heard first-hand some of the many anecdotes and stories that I have enjoyed sharing with our audiences over the past 10 years."

He said the show highlights how relevant Stevens' songs and messages of peace, tolerance and understanding remain.

But it is more than the music that inspires him: it is his story and his outlook on life.

"Perhaps the greatest thing I took home from my meeting Cat Stevens was the realisation that we all have the ability to make changes in our lives, should we not be content with who we are or where we are," Coggan said.

"At the height of his career in the late '70s, he was very discontent with the excesses of fame and fortune and he did something about it, he put down his guitar and walked away.

"Every generation has the chance to change their world, and I pray that we have the courage to face up to the realities of our time and let ourselves feel deeply enough so that it transforms us and our children's future."

Tickets to Remember The Days of Cat Stevens are now on sale (see links below).

TOURING SCHEDULE

August 6: Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, PENRITH, NSW

www.thejoan.com.au

August 7: Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre, NOWRA NSW

www.shoalhavenentertainment.com.au

August 13: Redland Performing Arts Centre, CLEVELAND QLD

www.rpac.com.au

August 20: Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, MANDURAH WA

www.manpac.com.au

August 21: Astor Theatre, PERTH

www.astortheatreperth.com

August 27: Arthouse Theatre, WYONG NSW

www.thearthousewyong.com.au

August 28: Glen Street Theatre, BELROSE NSW

www.glensthreet.com.au

October 2: Byron Bay Theatre, BYRON BAY NSW

www.byroncentre.com.au

READ MORE:Absolute bonanza if you love a good stanza

READ MORE:Cat Stevens to play NZ national memorial

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