Semaphore RSL Club, Sat 27 Feb
Dylan (the Prophet) and Donovan (the Poet) had parallel careers on opposite sides of the Atlantic as folk musicians representing the voices of social conscience in the 1960s – Dylan in the US and Donovan in Scotland. It was a time when folk singers could be famous across the globe. Steve Foster (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) obviously loved both of them, and suggested that “I actually think I thought I was Dylan there for several years!” What is certain is that he learned to sing Dylan songs beautifully. He joins a long line of artists who sing Dylan better than Dylan does, but some would argue that’s not hard!
After playing a few songs solo, including Donovan’s Catch The Wind and his own timeless Back To The Country, Foster was joined by Chris Goodall on guitar and vocals. Tales about how Dylan was suspicious of Donovan copying his image were entertaining. Dylan may even have been a little jealous: “Donovan was a much better harmonica player.”
A big part of the evening’s enjoyment, in fact, were Foster’s narrations of the back stories to the songs, and recounting and reflecting on his own musical life at the equivalent times. Sophie McCrae joined in for a couple of huge Donovan hits – clarinet on Sunshine Superman, and a wonderful sax solo on Mellow Yellow.
Obviously it was great for those who remember to hear these anthems from the ‘60s again and especially being played live by one of Adelaide’s finest singers. I was left wondering after the show why Steve Foster himself didn’t make it. He got close as he told us, but he never had that one mega hit that might have changed everything. He has such a lyrical and engaging voice and a flowing gentle feel on guitar. His own songs fitted in perfectly among the classics of the Prophet and the Poet.
Steve Foster stopped tracking the music of these two legends from around the mid ‘6os when as he said there was no longer a sense of urgency or any kind of prophetic writing in their music. But fortunately Steve himself has continued playing and writing, and it was a real treat to hear that beautiful musical soul sing and play and tell his stories once again.