Don McLean shows that he’s still got it at the Vilar Performing Arts Center |

Don McLean shows that he’s still got it at the Vilar Performing Arts Center

Nate Day
Don McLean recently toured across Europe with his four-piece band.
Nate Day | Special to the Daily

Don McLean may say “bye-bye” to Miss American Pie, but he’s not saying “bye-bye” to music any time soon.

On Thursday, Aug. 23, legendary singer-songwriter took the stage at the Vilar Performing Arts Center to perform some of his greatest hits, including his 1971 No. 1 “American Pie.”

McLean, whose aesthetic was somewhere between J.R. Ewing and a game show host, was backed by a four-piece band — one member having been part of his team for 30 years — all of whom boasted impressive resumes within the music industry.

Playing for just over an hour, McLean performed a myriad of his own songs, as well as covering songs originally played by Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.

Intimate and low-key

McLean also played songs from his most recent album, released in March, as well as his song “Vincent,” a tribute to Vincent van Gogh, which has recently reentered the mainstream thanks to covers by Ed Sheeran and Ellie Goulding.

The performance was intimate and low-key, allowing McLean to share stories of inspiration behind his politically- and socially-charged songs.

In addition to his stories, McLean poked fun at Johnny Cash and Carole King, sipped a Fat Tire bought for him by an audience member and even slammed the airline Air France for temporarily loosing his band’s instruments when they were due to play in Tel Aviv, Israel, making the show entertaining beyond just the music.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the concert, however, was a woman in the front row practically dancing through the aisles during “American Pie,” singing along to every word and hugging her friends a few rows back with infectious enthusiasm.

The crowd skewed into the 50-and-older demographic, and at least half the audience members donned cowboy boots, indicating their affinity for the folksy influences in his music.

While his age occasionally prevented him from hitting high notes, his performance was impressive, showcasing several musical styles and a high attention to detail in both classic and modern songwriting.

Without and empty seat in the house, it’s clear that McLean’s performance is one to be remembered for the Vail Valley.

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