BEING THERE: Cat Stevens @ The Kimmel Center



PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: At 68, Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens (aka Steven Demetre Georgiou, son of a Greek), has entered the taking-stock/legacy curation chapter of his life, which explains why his current tour, nicknamed A Cat’s Attic, is sort of a live-action memoir with a classic, precision-rendered soundtrack.

Thursday night at the Kimmel Center, the stage set was the bifurcated attic of Stevens’ home, set against the rooftops of London, beneath a gently smoking chimney, in the glow of a full moon, where Stevens sipped tea and poked through the dusty stacks of memory, providing running commentary in between flawless renderings of iconic songs like “Peace Train” and “Wild World” and deep cuts like “Here Comes My Baby” and “Matthew & Son” (at the end of which he gently ripped Tears For Fears for copping the song’s bridge for the melody of “Mad World”). The takeaway: there is more to heaven and Earth and Cat Stevens, Horatio, than is dreamt of in 60 million albums of gentle bell-bottomed folk-rock sold.

Stevens has always been the proverbial seeker on a quest — first for fame, which came hot and heavy in the wake of early 70s breakout albums like Tea For The Tillerman and Teaser And The Firecat, then for enlightenment, which he found reading the Quran after a near-death experience in Malibu, and lately how to reconcile the two after 27 years of silence as a singer and songwriter for religious reasons. MORE