Monday, March 20, 2017

19-March-2017
The Theatre At Ace Hotel

 Los Angeles, USA

Forbes

Van Morrison Pays Tribute To Chuck Berry At L.A. Show

What better way to spend St. Patrick’s Day weekend than with one of Ireland’s greatest musical exports, Van “The Man” Morrison? The Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer spent three nights, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, at the Theater At Ace Hotel in Los Angeles.

Reflecting an incredibly eclectic more than 50-year career that includes some of the greatest songs in rock history – “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Moondance,” “Saint Dominic’s Preview,” “Gloria” and countless more – Morrison concerts in recent years can be whatever the singer/songwriter feels like at that time, be it troubadour, folk rocker or, most likely, a jazz and blues cat.

It was the jazz and blues cat that took the stage for the closing show of his three-night stand. Even the gorgeous ballad “Have I Told You Lately,” was transformed into a swinging jazz number by Morrison and his superior band.

Looking the part in a dark suit, hat and sunglasses, Morrison worked through a mix of hits, such as “Moondance,” the upbeat “Wild Night,” the 1987 single “Someone Like You” and the agical closer “Into The Mystic,” and lesser-known fare like 1991’s “Why Must I Always Explain?,” a highlight for the way it was extended into a jazz jam, last year’s “Every Time I See A River” and the brilliant “Ballerina,” from the landmark Astral Weeks.

One of the highlights of the final night was a nod to rock and roll founding father Chuck Berry, who passed away this weekend, at the age of ninety. Morrison introduced his band’s cover of Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” as a tribute to the late rock legend, starting with a strong guitar solo, followed by Morrison’s lively and reverent interpretation of Berry’s timeless 1958 classic, one of his biggest commercial successes, hitting No 2 on the Billboard pop charts and No 1 on the R&B charts.

Of course musicians all around the world rightfully paid tribute to Berry this weekend, but seeing an artist of Morrison’s stature, a fellow Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer, added a sense of gravitas that only a handful of living musicians can match.

That applies to Morrison’s concerts in general. Though he is never going to be the type to play a greatest hits set, that is not who he is nor has he ever been as an artist, his place as a true rock icon and one of the greatest vocalists in the history of the genre is unquestionable. Just seeing that presence and listening to “the voice” still sound so powerful and compelling on songs like “Into The Mystic” make for spine-tingling moment that every true rock fan should experience at least once.
-Steve Baltin

Setlist (Thanks John M.)
Look Beyond the Hill
Have I Told You Lately
Magic Time
Someone Like You
Going Down to Bangor
Wild Night
Sweet Little Sixteen "Tribute to Chuck Berry"
Playhouse
Sometimes We Cry
Moondance
Precious Time
Days Like This
Cleaning Windows/ Johnny B Goode
In the Afternoon/ Ancient highway/ Raincheck/ Sitting Pretty
Baby Please Don't Go/ Parchman Farm/ Don't Start Cryin' Now/ Custard Pie
Why Must I Always Explain
Help Me
Ballerina
Into The Mystic/ High on the Hill/ Sense of Wonder

Sunday, March 19, 2017

18-March-2017
The Theatre At Ace Hotel

 Los Angeles, USA


Setlist (Thanks Mike S.)
Look Beyond the Hill
Have I Told You Lately
Magic Time
Someone Like You
Moondance
Carrying a Torch
Cleaning Windows
Sometime We Cry
Baby Please Don't Go/ Parchman Farm/ Don't Start Cryin/ Custard Pie
In the Afternoon/ Ancient highway/ Raincheck/ Sitting Pretty
Wild Night
Days Like This
Precious Time
Whenever God Shines His Light
Enlightenment
Help Me
Ballerina
Brown Eyed Girl
Gloria

Big Hand For The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards/Trumpet)
Mez Clough (Drums)
Sumudu (Vocals)
Dana Masters (Vocals)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

17-March-2017
The Theatre At Ace Hotel

 Los Angeles, USA

Los Angeles Times

Van Morrison brings Irish heartbeat to L.A. for St. Patrick's Day

Lightning, we’re often told, doesn’t strike the same place twice. Instead, it hits unpredictably — a principle also true of a Van Morrison live performance.

On Friday, at the first of three nights at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the veteran Irish singer, songwriter, poet, saxophonist, harmonica player, guitarist and sometimes shaman once again cast spells and summoned the kind of artistic forces that have made his music exceptionally rewarding for more than half a century.

Where most musicians find the high points of their shows in their iconic songs and biggest hits, Morrison used them Friday chiefly as signposts pointing to the vistas he was most interested in exploring.

The result was a performance that was generous with his most familiar numbers — “Moondance,” “Wild Night,” “Have I Told You Lately,” “Bright Side of the Road” — but which soared most convincingly in songs that got little mass public exposure when he first released them.

He delivered the hits efficiently, in an almost business-like way, but with remarkable nuance and definition thanks to the savvy support from his band of four instrumentalists and two singers.

But he truly ascended into the emotional stratosphere when he called on “Too Many Myths,” a cut from his 2003 album “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”

Lyrically, it’s another of his essays on the price of fame — ”There’s too many myths/Can’t you see I’m just trying to stay in the game” — but in the moment, it became a meditation on a sincere search for what’s real in life.

The spiritual side of things is frequently at the crux of Morrison’s music-making, and Friday he also addressed matters of the soul in “Enlightenment,” in which he shared his struggle with the quest for meaning: “Chop that wood, carry water/What’s the sound of one hand clapping?/Enlightenment — don’t know what it is.”

Those two songs encapsulate key themes Morrison returns to repeatedly, ideas that form a yin-yang exploration on his recordings and in concert: on one hand, his struggle not to succumb to forces that would hold him down, and on the other, a yearning to connect with humanity’s higher nature in an effort to be lifted up.

As those themes were expressed Friday, Morrison elicited cheers and shouts from the near-capacity crowd. So did his blues excursion that began with “Baby Please Don’t Go,” the standard with which his first band, Them, had a hit in 1964. The song was the first part of an extended medley that segued into Bukka White’s “Parchman Farm,” Morrison’s Them-era song “Don’t Start Crying Now” and a boogie-woogie version of Sonny Terry’s “Custard Pie.”

When the 71-year-old Belfast, Northern Ireland, native subsequently dipped into his groundbreaking 1968 album “Astral Weeks” for “Ballerina” near the end of the set, he shifted onto yet another emotional plane, delving deep into the meditative possibilities in its jazz-soul-folk mix. Guitarist Dave Keary served up an exquisite solo on a Spanish classical instrument that beautifully answered Morrison’s plaintive vocal.

Oh, yes, and Friday was St. Patrick’s Day. Yet anyone who came hoping to hear one of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated musician of the rock-era take on “Danny Boy,” “Whiskey in the Jar,” “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” and the like probably also still expects Bob Dylan to play “Like a Rolling Stone” just like it sounded on record.

Still, Morrison did acknowledge the occasion, turning to the traditional “Star of the County Down” from his stellar collaboration in 1986 with the Chieftains, “Irish Heartbeat.” In doing so, he gave it an entirely new treatment, replacing the stately march of that rendition with a rollicking arrangement that turned it into a kissing cousin of Del Shannon’s “Runaway.”

“Happy St. Patrick’s Day,” he said at the end.

His set didn’t include “Into the Mystic” this night, but that’s just a technicality. He took his audience there anyway.
-Randy Lewis

Setlist (Thanks Mike S.)
Too Late
Have I Told You Lately
Magic Time
Sometimes We Cry
Precious Time
Days Like This
Wild Night
Moondance
In the Midnight
Why Must I Always Explain
Star of the County Down
In the Afternoon/ Stretching Out/ Sittin' Pretty
I Can't Stop Loving You
Bright Side of the Road
Whenever God Shines His Light
Baby Please Don't Go/ Parchman Farm/ Don't Start Cryin Now/ Custard Pie
Enlightenment
Ballerina
Gloria

Big Hand For The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards/Trumpet)
Mez Clough (Drums)
Sumudu (Vocals)
Dana Masters (Vocals)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

16-February-2017
Nells Jazz And Blues

 London, England

via Matthew Jeffrey

Brendan's review of third and final night at Nells
The third and final night of Van's stint at Nell's was not prefaced by a statement from him that this would be a total blues set but he commenced once more with Goldfish Bowl which tonight featured a great extended guitar solo from Dave Keary. This was followed by the jazzy Symphony Sid and the lively Keep Mediocrity At Bay before Van slowed things down for Beautiful Vision featuring Sumudu on some shared vocals. Playhouse raised the tempo once more before Sometimes We Cry afforded Dana the opportunity to excel on vocals during a really good version. Bo Diddley's I Can Tell got another airing tonight and, if anything, was even better than the previous night. The Baby Please Don't Go etc. medley got a further outing before In The Midnight brought some order to proceedings once more. When Think Twice Before You Go was followed by Precious Time we had most definitely entered the 'hits' territory that Van had told us we wouldn't be entering on the first night. Corrective surgery was clearly urgently required and a momentary lull afforded dedicated Van fan Pamela Kendix (who was seated right in front of Van in the front row) the opportunity to request Why Must I Always Explain. Van responded by saying "Give Me A Rest" before adding that they needed to slow things down and picking up his electric guitar. And so it came to pass that Van delivered a top class version which included both backing singers finishing Van's lines and an excellent extended guitar solo by Van at the end. I Can't Stop Loving You featured both backing singers once more before another fine rendition of In The Afternoon which included nice guitar and trumpet solos. When All In The Game made a welcome return to the set list it was evident that Van was now firmly 'in the zone' and so it proved as he once more confirmed that he still has no Plan B and no safety net. Having thanked the band Van departed before returning for an incredible 15 minute version of Help Me which included a brilliant extended harmonica solo from Van which had the audience roaring and the band members smiling at one another in admiration. When Van had departed, the band members did their party pieces which included an excellent understated trumpet solo by Paul Moran ,fine bass from Paul Moore and great vocals from Dana and Sumudu.

This show was the best of the three in my view with the final 40 minutes or so in particular reminding us why we keep coming back for more.
-Brendan Hynes

via Matthew Jeffrey
Set List
Goldfish Bowl
Symphony Sid
Keep Mediocrity At Bay
Beautiful Vision
Playhouse
Sometimes We Cry
I Can Tell
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchman Farm/Don't Start Crying Now/Custard Pie
In The Midnight
Think Twice Before You Go
Precious Time
Why Must I Always Explain
I Can't Stop Loving You
In The Afternoon
All In The Game
Help Me

Set Time 1h 29m

Big Hand For The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards/Trumpet)
Mez Clough (Drums)
Sumudu (Vocals)
Dana Masters (Vocals)


15-February-2017
Nells Jazz And Blues

 London, England
via Matthew Jeffrey
Brendan's take on night two at Nells
As on the first night, Van announced at the outset that it would be a blues set given the name of the venue and he commenced the show once again with Goldfish Bowl which featured a great trumpet solo from Paul Moran. Playhouse moved things along at a brisk pace followed swiftly by Talk Is Cheap with Van first making a reference to "fake news". Fame was very strong once again and was followed by two covers in Take Your Hand Out Of My Pocket (which saw Van chuckling merrily for the first couple of verses) and I Believe To My Soul. The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword from the new album then got a further airing followed by the most welcome inclusion of Beautiful Vision which featured Sumudu extensively on shared vocals and fine steel guitar from Dave Keary. Going Down to Bangor put us all in holiday mode and was followed by a great cover of Bo Diddley's I Can Tell which saw fine guitar and organ solos from Dave Keary and Paul Moran respectively. I Can't Stop Loving You featured both Sumudu and Dana Masters on vocals and they featured individually to great effect on Sometimes We Cry(Dana) and Whenever God Shines His Light (Sumudu).Van reprised his Maritime blues medley of Baby Please Don't Go/Parchman Farm/Don't Start Crying Now/Custard Pie to bring us all back with him to share his 1964 memories. In The Afternoon followed to great acclaim and once more was the highlight of the night featuring lovely guitar and trumpet solos and lovely backing vocals from Dana and Sumudu who repeated the phrase "it's my life, it's your life baby" over and over to complement Van's extended and quite superb vocal workout. It was quite magical. Help Me and Gloria brought proceedings to a most lively conclusion once more.
-Brendan Hynes

Set List
Goldfish Bowl
Playhouse
Talk Is Cheap
Fame
Take Your Hand Out Of My Pocket
I Believe To My Soul
The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword
Beautiful Vision
Going Down To Bangor
I Can Tell
I Can't Stop Loving You
Sometimes We Cry
Whenever God Shines His Light
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchman Farm/Don't Start Crying Now/Custard Pie
In The Afternoon
Help Me
Gloria

Set Time 1h 30m

via Matthew Jeffrey
Big Hand For The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards/Trumpet)
Mez Clough (Drums)
Sumudu (Vocals)
Dana Masters (Vocals)

14-February-2017
Nells Jazz And Blues

 London, England
via Matthew Jeffrey

Brendan Hynes checks in with review of night one at Nells
Right from the outset Van laid down a marker as he stated that the only reason they were playing Nells was because it is a jazz and blues club so they would be playing a mainly blues set. His announcement that there would be no 'hits' was quite enthusiastically received by a sizeable number of attendees which seemed to surprise Van who retorted "that's good?". Before opening with Goldfish Bowl, Van likened the song's theme to the new term "alternate facts" before delivering quite a good version which was followed by a really strong Fame. Look Beyond The Hill and The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword from the new album followed in quick succession but in my view these are two of the weakest tracks and I was hoping for a first live performance of In Tiberon but it was not to be tonight. It may have been Valentines Day but Van was in no mood for sentiment as a request for Someone Like You was summarily dismissed with a rebuke that if one wanted to hear such songs then the large concerts were the place to hear them (this was quite a departure from previous shows at Nells where Van has often invited requests and been quite happy to play some of his more creative and lesser played material with no insistence that it be strictly blues or jazz material!) I Believe To My Soul which followed featured a great trumpet solo from Paul Moran while Dave Keary excelled on guitar during Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket which ran into Stormy Monday and Lonely Avenue. Going Down To Bangor raised the tempo considerably and gave Van the opportunity to reminisce about his bucket and spade while singing "tra la la tra la lee"! Rock Me Baby/Early In The Morning fairly rocked but at this stage we had probably reached 'blues overload' so a really powerful version of Sometimes We Cry(which saw Dana Masters get a deserved ovation for her vocal contribution) was quite a welcome diversion. We were quickly brought back to blues territory with Talk Is Cheap with Van once more making reference to alternate facts. Van then announced a blues medley from his time playing The Maritime in Belfast back in 1964 and featured Baby Please Don't Go/Parchman Farm/Don't Start Crying Now/Custard Pie(which saw Van became quite amused and to wonder whether lyrics which may have been acceptable in 1964 still are). A second deviation from the blues trail followed and brought us instead down the ancient highway with a quite magnificent In The Afternoon which went on for an age and was far and away the highpoint of the night and fully deserving of the extended ovation it received. The opening bars of Help Me indicated that the end was nigh and so it proved as Van asked for "a big hand for the band" before departing only to return one more time for Gloria which inevitably featured the band much more than it did Van as he beat a hasty retreat and left them to it as they kept playing for quite some time to stretch out the set time.


via Matthew Jeffrey
Van was in good form throughout and in fine voice in what was a committed performance albeit somewhat restricted by the overwhelming adherence to the 'blues only' theme which resulted in exactly half of the songs performed being cover versions of other artists' work.
-Brendan Hynes

Setlist
Goldfish Bowl
Fame
Look Beyond the Hill
The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword
I Believe To My Soul
Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket/Stormy Monday/Lonely Avenue
Going Down To Bangor
Rock Me Baby/Early In The Morning
Sometimes We Cry
Talk Is Cheap
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchman Farm/Don't Start Crying Now/Custard Pie
In The Afternoon
Help Me
Gloria

Set Time-1h 28m

Big Hand For The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards/Trumpet)
Mez Clough (Drums)
Sumudu (Vocals)
Dana Masters (Vocals)

Monday, December 19, 2016

18-December-2016
Waterfront Hall

 Belfast, Northern Ireland

via Pablo Torres G.
Brendan was at gig and sends his thoughts
Van Morrison’s final concert of 2016 was reserved for his hometown of Belfast and as early Christmas presents go they don’t really come much better than this. Having started in lively fashion with Too Late and Going Down To Bangor from the new album, Van continued in up tempo mode with the fast version of Have I Told You Lately which featured a nice saxophone solo from Van. Every Time I See A River was the first of many highlights and was followed by a quite majestic double header of Foreign Window and Tore Down A La Rimbaud(which featured a really nice organ solo from Paul Moran).Beautiful Vision was really impressive once more and featured new female backing singer Sumudu to considerable effect. Baby Please Don’t Go /Don’t Start Crying Now/Custard Pie got the hall rocking and were followed by a quick fire Here Comes The Night. Wild Night went down a treat and featured good guitar and organ solos from Dave Keary and Paul Moran respectively before a particularly strong version of Sometimes We Cry which included lovely vocals from Sumudu to complement Van’s. Precious Time appealed primarily to the clap-a-long attendees before Van slowed things down considerably for In The Midnight during which Van’s vocals were particularly strong. Wonderful Remark was a quite powerful and most welcome inclusion in the set and was dedicated by Van to Brian Keenan and John McCarthy who had shared a common love of Van’s music when held as hostages together back in the 1990s.Whenever God Shines His Light featured a nice bass solo from Paul Moore and saw Van on tambourine briefly. In The Afternoon got the full treatment from Van as he took us down the ancient highway before stretching out for miles and miles and finally sitting pretty. Enlightenment raised the tempo once more and was followed by Carrying A Torch featuring Van and Sumudu to great effect on shared vocals. Brown Eyed Girl was immediately followed by an imperious In The Garden which thankfully on this occasion was a long version befitting the song’s excellence which ended with Van departing the stage still singing the No Guru No Method No Teacher mantra as the audience jumped to their feet in acclamation. Van briefly returned for Gloria which as usual was primarily an extended band workout once Van had departed and one which the audience fully appreciated judging by the reaction at the end.
-Brendan Hynes

Setlist
Too Late
Going Down To Bangor
Have I Told You Lately (fast version)
Every Time I See A River
Foreign Window
Tore Down A La Rimbaud
Beautiful Vision
Baby Please Don’t Go/Don’t Start Crying Now/Custard Pie
Here Comes The Night
Wild Night
Sometimes We Cry
Precious Time
In The Midnight
Wonderful Remark
Whenever God Shines His Light
In The Afternoon
Enlightenment
Carrying A Torch
Brown Eyed Girl
In The Garden
Gloria

Big Hand For The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards/Trumpet)
Mez Clough (Drums)
Sumudu (Vocals)

Set Time 1h 45m

Sunday, December 04, 2016

29-November-2016
O2 Apollo

 Manchester, England

Barry sent in this review
Wintertime in England is coming and this frosty November evening in glamorous Ardwick Green almost justifies shelling out the sum of £65 at the merchandise stall located in the crowded foyer of the venue for the privilege of acquiring a Keep Me Singing blanket.The ragged glory of the art deco Apollo Theatre was a familiar haunt (of ancient peace) for Van during the 1980s and 1990s but tonight marks his first show back at this scene of countless former glories since 23rd February 2001 (and I confess that I boycotted that particular gig owing to the presence on stage of the egregious Linda Gail Lewis).The prompt 8.00pm start catches out quite a few tardy patrons, who proceed to miss out on the only two concessions to showcasing his latest album that Van would deign to make during his set. A mellow Higher Than The World ensues and then it’s an unwelcome nosedive into the cabaret arrangement of Have I Told You Lately, which even some forceful backing vocals courtesy of Dana Masters can’t contrive to redeem. Things then really start to pick up. For my money, Carrying A Torch remains an unjustly underrated gem from the Morrison oeuvre and Van and Dana Masters indubitably did it fulljustice on this occasion. It was splendid to hear outings for both The Mystery and Full Force Gale and then Van kicked things up an even higher notch via a superb rendition of Beautiful Vision, his head tilting right back as he gazed up at the rafters of the Apollo with asense of wonder and proclaimed “I can make it”.An excursion into Them territory duly pleased most of the attendees before Wild Night maintained the furious pace.Then comes the evening’s tour de force. A 10-minute In The Afternoon sees a transcendent Van heading off on a tangent down those ancient highways with the lights from the cars on the overpass via those heartfelt paeans to Joe Turner. Van issues intensepleas for “a shot of rhythm and blues” before repeatedly declaring “because it’s my life” and the workshop for the band culminates in excerpts of So Quiet In Here as he ushers the volume down to a level at which you could almost have heard a pin drop. You can feel the silence as he concludes matters with the simple instruction to “turn it all off.” Vintage stuff. In The Midnight witnesses Van corpsing momentarily as Dave Keary unleashes his falsettobacking vocals. However, from thereon the home straight largely comprises Van cruising along in jukebox mode as the crowd-pleasing hits are wheeled out in swift succession.The piano introduction of the enrapturing In The Garden serves to raise my spirits (it’s Van’s magnum opus – don’t even think of ever attempting to dispute that pronouncement with me). Alas, it merely unfolds into a sacrilegiously truncated interpretation, notwithstanding some adroit acoustic guitar flourishes from Dave Keary, and Sir Van is soon bound for the wings whilst intoning that familiar “no guru, no method, no teacher” mantra.

Gloria promptly comes around here as the inevitable encore. Van hangs around just long enough to hear her knock upon his door before vanishing into the Mancunian night. With the shackles now well and truly off owing to their master having abandoned the classroom,the band get to show off their chops one by one (aside from Dana Masters, who also departs prematurely having been tapped on the shoulder by Van’s trusty stagehand. Perhaps she’s on the same flight back to Belfast as the man himself?).Most of the audience seemed to revel in this elongated jam session but I freely admit to being a devout curmudgeon and I can’t help but feel somewhat short-changed as it goes on….and on. Life is simply too transient to have to endure any extended bass and drum solos.So, not exactly a golden autumn day to rank alongside those spellbinding Van concerts of yore at this venue but nonetheless a performance that still contained some memorable moments for any fellow Van purists. His voice remains a wondrous force of nature and in awretched year which has sadly seen the death of one of my other long-standing musical heroes, namely Mister Leonard Cohen, I draw immense solace from the fact that Van shows every desire to keep on singing.
-Barry Pikesley


Setlist
Too Late
Every Time I See A River
Higher Than The World
Have I Told You Lately (Vegas version)
Carrying A Torch
The Mystery
Full Force Gale
Tore Down a la Rimbaud
Beautiful Vision
Baby Please Don't Go/ Don't Start Crying Now/Custard Pie Blues
Here Comes The Night
Wild Night
In The Afternoon/Ancient Highway/Joe Turner Sings/Raincheck/Burn Baby Burn/Don’t You Make Me High/Shake, Rattle and Roll/So Quiet In Here
In The Midnight
Precious Time
Whenever God Shines His Light
Brown Eyed Girl
Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)
In The Garden
Gloria

Big Hand For The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards/Trumpet)
Mez Clough (Drums)
Dana Masters (Vocals)
Sumudu (Vocals)

Set time: 1h 35m.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

28-November-2016
Royal Concert Hall

 Nottingham, England

Nottingham Post

Van Morrison was knighted by Prince Charles this year. At 71, he's still a genuine one-off, a musical giant who has influenced countless lesser talents, many of whom have gone on to achieve far greater fortune and fame, with his intoxicatingly original blend of soul, jazz, spirituality and Celtic mysticism.

On stage in Nottingham, he wasn't trying to charm us. Evidently suffering from a bit of a cold, he kept attacking a large box of paper tissues and drinking glasses of water and cups of what looked like throat medicine. Smartly dressed in suit, hat and shades, he barely spoke to the sold-out audience, and gave only the briefest gruff instructions to his razor-sharp six-piece band.

But it didn't matter. Despite the sniffles, his voice soared as he tore through a setlist crammed with classics, played with astonishing delicacy, taste and - just when you didn't expect it - explosions of primal power.

Although some of the eccentricity is doubtless explained by his legendary stage fright, he still seems remarkably uncomfortable on stage. Time and again, in mid-song, he turned to his setlist or some other item on the pile of paperwork behind him, only to magically turn to the microphone and tear into the next verse at exactly the right moment.

He began with two songs from latest album Keep Me Singing, his 36th. It's a lovely record, and one which shows his total disregard for anything approaching musical fashion. The man who's performed with Bob Dylan and Dr John also had a hit single with Cliff Richard, remember, and the new album features backing vocals from Lance Ellington, who regularly sings with the band on Strictly Come Dancing.

After kicking off with latest single Too Late, he pulled out Every Time I See A River, a new song co-written with 78-year-old West End lyricist Don Black, who also wrote the words for Born Free and Diamonds Are Forever. The result is 100 percent Sir Van, though. It was great.

With a back catalogue totalling hundreds of songs, it's always a question of what he's going to leave out. But there were plenty of gems for the hardcore fan - a raging Tore Down A La Rimbaud, a masterful Beautiful Vision, a soulful Crazy Love - and plenty of hits for the rest, including beautiful versions of Someone Like You and Sometimes We Cry, and even a surprisingly powerful rendition of his Cliff co-hit Whenever God Shines His Light.

The only letdown was Have I Told You Lately, on which the melody was thrown away by the over-hasty tempo of an ill-advised new arrangement.

As he raced towards the end, we got Moondance, Brown-Eyed Girl and a spectacular No Guru, No Method, No Teacher which he was still singing as he walked off, bringing the house down.

Moments later he was back for an explosive Gloria, which brought the oldest audience I've ever seen at a concert to its feet before he raced off for the final time, unleashing his band to hammer home several minutes of instrumental virtuosity before lights-out and home. Champion.
-Sean Hewitt

Setlist (Thanks Pamela)
Too Late
Every Time I See A River
Higher Than The World
Have I Told You Lately
Someone Like You
Open The Door (To Your Heart)
Carrying A Torch
Moondance/ My Funny Valentine
Baby Please Don't Go / Don't Start Cryin' Now / Gimme Some Lovin / Here Comes The Night
Whenever God Shines His Light
Wild Night
Beautiful Vision
Tore Down a la Rimbaud
Sometimes We Cry
Precious Time
I Can't Stop Loving You
Crazy Love
Full Force Gale
Enlightenment
Brown Eyed Girl
In The Garden
Gloria

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

14-November-2016
Festival Hall

 Glasgow, Scotland


Brendan Hynes sent in this review
In keeping with the precedent set the previous night in Edinburgh Van Morrison varied the set list once again with seven different songs included on this occasion. The first of these was the pleasant instrumental Caledonian Swing from the new album while Memory Lane from the album was later performed and was really impressive. The Beauty of The Days Gone By saw Van on acoustic guitar and it seemed to catch the band by surprise as Van started more or less unaccompanied before turning around to see if the band were going to join in which thankfully they did with Paul Moran adding a fine extended trumpet solo to the rendition. A rare and most welcome Domino followed and Van and Paul Moran manfully added some brass sounds which are pretty integral to this song but they were obviously restricted to doing so only when Van wasn’t singing and Paul was not playing keyboards. Mose Allison’s Benediction (Thank God For Self Love ) was a rather poignant inclusion in the set given that his death was announced the following day and the reason for the exclusion of the Parchman Farm(a song long associated with Mose) comedy routine after Baby Please Don’t Go now seems apparent. In The Garden was the final set list change from the previous night but was once again quite a shortened version so Van didn’t really get too immersed in it but it was beautiful nevertheless while it lasted and he departed into the wings at its ending only to return once more for Gloria which saw the band cut loose once again to great acclaim.

Highlights among the remainder of the concert included Someone Like You, Tore Down A La Rimbaud and Beautiful Vision once more, the magnificent Haunts of Ancient Peace (which ventured into Summertime in England territory down by Avalon with even Mr. Lawrence getting a mention along the way) and The Mystery which was wonderful once again but was somewhat blighted towards its conclusion as Van attempted a harmonica solo only to find the first harmonica he tried to be out of tune so he promptly flung it back down. The second one Van tried was even worse and suffered the same fate while the third one didn’t sound much better but he persevered as we all kept our heads down and prayed(to The One of course).

While not quite reaching the heady heights of the previous night’s Edinburgh concert with Van appearing somewhat subdued this was nevertheless another really good show which was loudly acknowledged by a captive audience at its conclusion.

-Brendan Hynes

Set List
Caledonian Swing
Sack of Woe
Back On Top
Too Late
Memory Lane
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword
Have I Told You Lately (fast version)
Beautiful Vision
The Mystery
Tore Down A La Rimbaud
Haunts of Ancient Peace/excerpts from Summertime in England
The Beauty of the Days Gone By
Domino
Carrying a Torch
Lonely Avenue
Benediction (Thank God For Self Love)
Moondance
Someone Like You
Brown Eyed Girl
Baby Please Don’t Go/Don’t Start Crying Now
In The Garden
Gloria

Big Hand For The Band!

Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards)
Mez Clough (Drums)
Dana Masters (Vocals)
Set Time 1h 40m.