Forest Hills Stadium
New York, USA
Dan Murray's take on gig
Look Beyond the Hills
Located near a lovely residential area in Queens, Forest Hills Stadium is a pretty big venue, but tightly configured and with excellent sound throughout.
I had been worried about the weather for days, and it turns out that Matthew was still stinging the area with his tail, whipping up strong winds and some showers. The showers abated by mid-afternoon as the storm moved further out to sea, but the winds stayed brisk during the entire show. It was a chilly, chilly evening, but that set the atmosphere for a pretty hot gig with Van and the band seemingly unbothered by the weather. Morrison was in excellent voice throughout the show, opening with Too Late and finishing with In the Garden and Gloria. The set list was expertly pegged to the crowd.
Of course, at a venue this size, there is going to be a very diverse group: The idiots who talk and don't listen, those who listen sporadically, and those intent on following every note, some dancing and smiling and having a grand time. I was surrounded by each type.
Ghostly, softly illuminated clouds sailed over the venue as skies partially cleared for the gig, a big half-moon cookie of a moon shining down. Jetliners banked gently near the stadium on their airport approaches, their lights twinkling. It was a great atmosphere.
Van and the band knew they had to cut through the cold in the air, and they did a great job helped out by the superb sound system. The music was sharp and spot on.
Van continues to revel in performing at the moment, his body language full of energy and his head tilting back and emoting with power.
Every song was well-performed, with In the Afternoon getting the workshop treatment. With Bobby Ruggiero back on drums for the US gigs, Van returned the Parchman Farm spouse-shooting drumshots into the set, and that Old Black Magic duet returned with a lovefest by dad for daughter Shana, who opened the show with a nice, longer-than-usual set. Tore Down a la Rimbaud was joyous and inspiring.
Van featured 4 songs from his gorgeous new album, but not Out in the Cold Again. That would have been too appropriate.
In the Afternoon continues to be a welcome beauty, Van exploring new avenues on the ancient highway until sittin' pretty on the mountaintop above the deep blue sea, with vistas stretching out over miles and miles of golden sand. Always great to get Garden and the Holy Guardian Angel. Van sang this one and Gloria clear out into the wings and through the side curtains.
Van fan Brian Heffler suggested I contrast this show with the Culloden gigs I was fortunate to attend 3 weeks ago. Some of the differences are obvious, Forest Hills is 40 times bigger than the Culloden. It has bench seating, primarily, instead of tables in an elegant ballroom. It is open air with much more people movement and distraction.
But Van and the band surmounted all of those things on Sunday night. The music at the Culloden and the music at Forest Hills featured the same commitment and pleasure-inducing features, although obviously the Culloden was much more intimate and conducive to a little more stretching out on the workshops. All the shows were highly successful.
Van and the crew now swing out to the West Coast for 5 more gigs, in very different venues. I have a feeling they are going to be memorable.
Setlist (Thanks John Z.)
Someone Like You
Tore Down A La Rimbaud
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchment Farm/Don't Start Crying Now
Here Comes The Night
Sometimes We Cry
Old Black Magic w/Shana Morrison
Going Down To Bangor
In the Afternoon/Ancient Highway/Raincheck/Sittin' Pretty
Whenever God Shines his Light
Why Must I always Explain
Brown Eyed Girl
Keep Me Singing
Let It Rhyme
In The Garden
Big Hand For The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards)
Bobby Ruggiero (Drums)
Dana Masters (Vocals)