Wednesday, 13 November 2013 15:10

Peace Train: The Cat Stevens Story

Mourning has broken as Darren Coggan channels legend Cat Stevens to give the fans the tour they’ve always craved in ‘Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story’.

“I honestly believe that this show has had a huge response for several reasons. The main one is the fact that the messages of peace, tolerance and understanding still speak to today’s generation as much, if not more, than the generation that they were originally written for.

"The second reason is that he, himself, at the height of his career, literally walked away from the music industry – very discontented with the excesses of fame and fortune. He didn't perform for nearly forty years.

"So in a live context anyway, his fans haven't really had a lot of access to these songs, performed in the same spirit that he would have performed them in. So I think that fans have been hungry for anything remotely related to the man himself and to the music.

“I've tried to recreate the music as accurately as possible on stage within a seven piece band context. I've always wanted to present this show with the respect that I feel that his music, his story and his fans deserve.

"I think that they are beautiful, timeless songs that have strong messages in them.”

Despite an extensive career in musical theatre, this was the role that Darren Coggan was born to play.

“I would often perform covers of his songs in my own shows, and it was always the Cat Stevens songs that people would comment on. It's not actually something that I really tried to emulate, but there is a natural similarity in the vocal timbre of our voices.

"I started looking into his life story and found his journey of personal discovery really inspiring. With one of the most prolific catalogues of our times, I just thought – ‘this would make a great show'. So the voice you hear on stage is me singing as me, which is a little bit uncanny.”

A big fan of the artist, he counts himself lucky to have interacted with the music great.

“I actually had lunch with him in London in 2007. Whilst I didn't get to quiz him too much on his personal life, I would love to talk to him about touring in his early days.

"Music at that time was so influential on everything – on culture and on life in general. Touring with Jimi Hendrix like he did and hanging out with The Beatles, as a musician that era is something that I am fascinated about. We do tell a few of those stories, which elevated the show to what it is now.

"People come expecting to hear these great songs, but I think that they go away with a lot more than just the music.”

Playing all over Australia, including to sold-out audiences at the Sydney Opera House, his favourite Stevens song is in a constant state of flux.

“At the moment [my favourite] is a song called 'Oh Very Young' which is off an album called ‘Buddha And The Chocolate Box’. It talks about how life is precious and that we have got to make the most of every day.

"I think that as I watch my two children grow up, like any parents I guess, I hope and pray that they have a good life and find happiness, contentment and fulfilment within any avenue they choose in life.”

Darren Coggan plays 'Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story' at the QPAC Concert Hall on November 29.

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