BASKING in the adulation of large crowds must be habit forming. Still undertaking significant world tours at the age of 72, Don McLean wore his age lightly.

Small of frame but mighty of ego, he certainly made his presence felt. At the request of Peter Bradley and his Buddy Holly Guitar Foundation organisation, a customised Gibson was presented to McLean on the night. McLean had immortalised Holly’s death in his most famous song, the musical and lyrical tour-de force that is American Pie. Before he raised the roof with that, however, he had cheerfully trampled over Holly’s Every Day, pummelling the lightness of the original with an MOR-shaped hammer.

The set was diverse, with enjoyable forays into blues and folk, plenty of straight up rock'n'roll, as well as the earnest singer-songwriter material that made him a star. His band were road honed, many of them having served for more than 20 years. All excelled, but special commendation to pianist Tony Migliore, who modestly stole the show, particularly on Crossroads.

McLean talked unabashedly, but truthfully, of how his songs have touched so many around the world. It is a touch ironic that one of his best songs, Castles In The Air, shows touching humility in the face of a woman as he flees to the country.

There was no such timidity in his latest tunes, which find him back in the green on his new Botanical Gardens album, with McLean cast as a roving ladykiller. If not taken too seriously, it is fairly enjoyable fare, but a long way short of previous peaks. But what doesn’t pall beside "Starry starry night"? Arguably one of the best known, and best opening lines, in popular music, from Vincent, another standard and his faithful encore.

McLean has earned his place at rock’s hall of fame, and York’s sell-out crowd would have him playing still.