The Former Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam, Performs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame ceremony performance by new inductee Yusuf Islam — the man formerly known as Cat Stevens — was one rooted in simplicity.
The professorial-looking musician strapped on an acoustic guitar and launched into ‘Father and Son,’ with only understated picking from Waddy Wachtel for accompaniment. “I bet you didn’t think you were going to hear that again!” he said after, in apparent reference to the quarter-century-plus hiatus he took from music.
Up next was a lovely version of ‘Wild World.’ The song benefited from expanded accompaniment, including Paul Shaffer on keyboards and four vibrant backing vocalists. “All right — hey, okay,” Stevens said after the performance. “These are two songs about leaving — this one is about waiting for a train to take me home.”
Naturally next up was ‘Peace Train,’ which was even more elaborate: featuring a full choir of singers, yearning organ and nifty bass work from the Rock Hall house band. Throughout it all, Islam’s voice was powerful and longing, the lyrics he wrote in the early ’70s still as vibrant and urgent today as they were 40 years ago.