It’s an unspoken contract between an artist and the audience, the reward at the end of the show is the big hit, the one everyone knows and the one every one will sing along with.
In the case of Don McLean, the greater reward was a chance to hear the other songs from his decades of performing – those that got overshadowed.
His set (last of the evening) began with a little Buddy Holly (Well, Alright), before playing his own material including Homeless Brother, Bronco Bill’s Lament, Vincent and Empty Chairs.
There were a few more covers (Tulsa Time, Crying) and a few jokes about tent living, a short story about singing at places along the Hudson river and The Weavers before Brother Can You Spare A Dime and a little banter about turning Time-Life down (“James Taylor was great when he still had hair… he’s still great… playing the same songs 17 different ways.”)
And then, finally, he sang the opening lines of American Pie, quite possibly one of the best known songs of the festival, and ended the night with a singalong.