Cat Stevens Reconstructed is far more than a tribute act to the legendary singer songwriter. It is a soaring and captivating hour that breathes new life into many of the overplayed hits from the Stevens' back catalogue. Led by Jess Abrams, whose smooth and solid voice is effortlessly beautiful, the songs of Cat Stevens are reinterpreted and reinvented as silky jazz numbers. With Paul Kirby and Jay Kilbride on piano and bass respectively, each song is thoughtfully reconstructed to bring new meaning and verve to each hit. The most pertinent example of this being the conversion of punchy anthem 'Wild World' into a reflective ballad of such heartfelt brilliance a number of audience members were moved to tears (myself included).
Kirby and Kilbride are both given time to shine and both reveal themselves to be immensely talented musicians. They are never overpowering yet never underplay and always fit perfectly into the groves of each song. They find the moments to elevate the music through their impressive skills but similarly they know that sometimes all you need is a pause to let the others do the talking. The trio as a whole work together in harmony with every note and beat considered and played with an astute attention to detail. There are no bum notes, no odd musical tangents and the purity of their reconstructions make sterling pieces of stand alone work, with or without the Cat Stevens prefix.
Abrams is not trying to improve on Cat Stevens' songs. From the offset she says how she grew up with his music, how it has influenced her and how she wants to pay tribute to his work. She has certainly achieved that, and more. This show is a stunning hour for Stevens fans, converts and the uninitiated. Superbly well written and arranged songs performed by a tight and mesmerising trio of musicians.