Friday, August 28, 2015

24-August-2015
Slieve Donard Hotel

 Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Brendan Hynes sent in his thoughts on night 2 at Slieve Donard
As on the previous night, the second concert by Van Morrison at this venue started well ahead of the scheduled start time but on this occasion as the band took to the stage we had the added bonus of seeing Irish broadcaster and game-show host Marty Whelan leap onto the stage to lead the audience in a rendition of Happy Birthday specially for Van. At this point I almost anticipated Van being carried shoulder high through the audience onto the stage but alas it didn’t materialise. Celtic Swing and Close Enough For Jazz gave the show itself a pretty predictable opening before By His Grace got proceedings properly under way. Wild Honey got a rare but welcome airing but suffered somewhat from an apparent breakdown in communications where Dana Masters stopped singing a verse as if she was expecting an instrumental solo but it didn’t materialise which resulted in the band just playing but no one singing. Playhouse got another airing to great acclaim with Dave Keary and Paul Moran excelling with guitar and organ solos respectively. Mystic of the East which followed was the highlight of the night for me with Van playing guitar and singing and humming over it as only he can do. Magical!.

The lively Guitar Slim number Things I Used To Do was followed by Van telling us he had a request which turned out to be Who Can I Turn To? (featuring a great Paul Moran trumpet solo) but not before a fan had shouted out looking for Not Supposed To Breakdown from the Philosopher’s Stone album. Van explained that they didn’t perform that song and hadn’t rehearsed it but encouragingly he did say ‘next time’ which would be a great treat as it is another neglected musical gem from his incredible repertoire that I would love to hear live.

Moondance was notable for a great piano solo by Paul Moran(one more time) and was quickly followed by another eminently forgettable version of Brown Eyed Girl.An outstanding Carrying A Torch was followed by a really good Cleaning Windows which saw the gentleman from the previous night reprise his John Travolta dancing role to great acclaim. The absence of the brass section was, however, particularly noticeable on this song and they would undoubtedly have enhanced it further but it nevertheless went down a storm and received a standing ovation from many of the audience .Days Like This and Precious Time rather surprisingly were played again tonight and were followed by an absolutely blistering version of Think Twice Before You Go with Van and the band perfectly synchronised and earning another standing ovation.Whenever God Shines His Light and Baby Please Don’t go/Parchman Farm/Don’t Start Crying Now kept the tempo up and got a great reaction yet again.

At this point Van told us he was going to slow things down and he embarked on It’s All In the Game.Van referenced Jimmy Witherspoon as having also recorded the song and told us that he had been an artist who used to engage in the old blues tradition of ‘testifying’.Van did some ‘testifying’ himself at this point to the extent that he didn’t get to bring us to the burning ground and the song delivery came nowhere near the heights reached the previous night.After departing the stage, Van returned for a brisk rendition of Gloria before leaving the band to bring proceedings to a close which they did to great effect, especially Dana doing some wonderful chanting over the music.

The set time was 1 h 38 m and while there were a number of outstanding moments I didn’t feel the concert matched the previous night’s quality.

Brendan Hynes

Setlist
Happy Birthday (sung from the audience)
Celtic Swing
Close Enough For Jazz
By His Grace
Wild Honey
Playhouse
Mystic of the East
Things I Used To Do
Who Can I Turn To
Moondance
Brown Eyed Girl
Carrying a Torch
Cleaning Windows
Days Like This
Precious Time
Think Twice Before You Go
Whenever God Shines His Light
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchment Farm
Cry Cry Baby
All in the Game
Gloria

23-August-2015
Slieve Donard Hotel

 Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Brendan Hynes sent in this review
And so it finally came to pass after many months of great anticipation for one of the largest ever gatherings of Van Morrison fans that the week long musical celebration of Van’s 70th birthday and career finally got under way in earnest with the first of two shows at the venue.

Arriving on stage around 15 minutes ahead of schedule, Van opened as usual with Celtic Swing before a welcome rendition of Higher Than The World which followed. Next up was a stirring Kingdom Hall which went down a treat although the sight of Van so obviously reading the lyrics as he sang was a bit off putting.Carrying a Torch featuring nice vocal exchanges between Van and Dana Masters was a treat yet again and hugely appreciated by the very enthusiastic audience.Magic Time,Days Like This and Choppin Wood followed in quick succession and were well performed without reaching any great heights.The same could not be said of Mystic Of the East which followed which was quite beautiful and so appropriate for the concert setting.Deep in the Heart of Down is right!. A fairly rip roaring Playhouse followed and when played live like this it certainly stands up well by comparison with other top songs in the country rock songbook. I Can’t Stop Loving You was well delivered as was Whenever God Shines His Light which featured a brilliant Dave Keary guitar solo.Another but quite different sounding guitar solo on Precious Time was met with laughter by Van who was quite clearly impressed.

At this stage we were treated to something quite different with Van performing a stunning cover of Cole Porter’s Miss Otis Regrets which quite rightly received a standing ovation from many of the audience. Enlightenment and HelpMe followed in quick succession with the latter being a particularly good version.Baby Please Don’t go/Parchman Farm/Don’t Start Crying Now went down an absolute storm so much so that one more senior audience member could supress his exuberance no longer as he leapt to his feet and engaged in some slick dance moves between the tables.What a mover and shaker!After all that excitement Van told us he had a request and what followed was a brilliant All In The Game with Van getting right into it and bringing us into You Know What They Are Writing About before heading to the Burning Ground.On and on it went as Van gave us one of those real magical moments that one yearns for when attending a Van concert.Van shuffled off stage to bring the song to it’s conclusion as the audience jumped to their feet and roared their approval. Van returned one more time to deliver Ballerina but with many of the audience now storming to the front of the stage Van seemed somewhat uneasy and he cut short his rendition leaving the band to finish the job which they did with fine extended solos.
The concert length was 1 h 39m and it provided a very encouraging start to the week’s proceedings.

-Brendan Hynes

Setlist
Celtic Swing
Higher Than The World
Kingdom Hall
Carrying A Torch
Magic Time
Days Like This
Choppin' Wood
Mystic of the East
Playhouse
I Can't Stop Loving You
Whenever God Shines His Light
Precious Time
Miss Otis Regrets
Enlightenment
Help Me
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchment Farm
Cry Cry Baby
All in the Game
Ballerina

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Radio & TV Events For Van's Upcoming Birthday Concerts

  

BBC Radio Ulster is marking the 70th birthday of Belfast-born music legend Van Morrison with six days of special programmes, features and events - culminating in an exclusive full, live broadcast of the superstar’s sold-out 70th birthday concert from Cyprus Avenue, Belfast.
Happy Birthday Van
Wednesday 26 August – Monday 31 August
BBC Radio Ulster
bbc.co.uk/radioulster

BBC Radio Ulster is marking the 70th birthday of Belfast-born music legend Van Morrison with six days of special programmes, features and events – culminating in an exclusive full live broadcast of the superstar’s sold-out 70th birthday concert from Cyprus Avenue, Belfast.

Ralph’s Top 70 Van Tracks Countdown
From Wednesday 26 August until Friday 28 August, Ralph McLean presents three two-hour programmes on BBC Radio Ulster each night from 8-10pm, where he will be counting down songs from Van’s illustrious career, which spans more than 50 years. Ralph’s Top 70 Van Tracks Countdown celebrates the Belfast-born musician’s best known work as chosen by BBC Radio Ulster listeners.

Happy Birthday Van
During the week well known personalities from these shores pass on their birthday greetings to the multi-award winning artist in a series of short programmes called Happy Birthday Van. Famous Van Morrison fans such as Barry Douglas, Paddy Maloney, Brian Keenan, Phil Coulter and Sir Bob Geldof discuss how Van inspired them and choose the song that means the most to them. Happy Birthday Van can be heard before 11.55am and approximately 9.50pm from Wednesday 26 August until Friday 28 August and at 8.55am, 11.55pm and 4.55pm on Monday, August 31.

Arts Show
From 6.30pm on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle, the Arts Show will include a daily celebration of Van Morrison and his work.

Gardeners’ Corner & John Toal
On Saturday 29 August, the Van Morrison themed programmes take a horticultural turn as Cherrie McIlwaine presents a Gardeners’ Corner special featuring gardens and green spaces in east Belfast from 9am. Later that morning, at 11am, John Toal will bring his show live from east Belfast in advance of Van’s two sell-out concerts on Monday 31 August.

Into The Music
And winding up the Van Morrison programming on Saturday 29 August is the special BBC Radio Ulster concert Into The Music at 6.05pm where Ralph McLean introduces local musicians, including The Four Of Us,The Clameens, Anthony Toner, Wookalilly and Ronnie Greer, as they pay a birthday tribute to Van Morrison at the Park Avenue Hotel in east Belfast.

The Story Of Them
On Sunday 30 August at 2pm there is another chance to hear Dan Gordon present The Story Of Them. Who are Them? What are Them? - asked the newspaper ads in 1964. This documentary tells the story of the five-piece rhythm & blues band from Belfast who scored a string of hits including Baby Please Don’t Go and Here Comes The Night.The programme features interviews with band members and, of course, music for the band. This is the story of the incredible rise and fall of one of Northern Ireland’s most famous musical exports.

Van Morrison Live On Cyprus Avenue
And finally on Monday 31 August, the day of Van’s birthday – BBC Radio Ulster will exclusively broadcast Van Morrison’s full 70th birthday concert live from Cyprus Avenue – the street which famously inspired the Astral Weeks track of the same name. Broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle from 2.45pm, this is a unique opportunity for Van Morrison lovers to hear the artist in all his live glory as he performs his sold-out matinee concert as part of the Eastside Arts Festival. Prior to the concert starting, Ralph McLean will be setting the scene for listeners as he takes in his surroundings at the Cyprus Avenue concert and chatting to fans lucky enough to get tickets for the event.

BBC Northern Ireland viewers will also have the chance to witness Van Morrison in action and relive the concert when it receives its exclusive television broadcast on BBC One NI on Friday, September 4 at 10.35pm. (Transmission times correct at time of publication.)

Sunday, August 02, 2015

02-August-2015
Skeppsholmen

 Stockholm, Sweden


Setlist
Celtic Swing
Close Enough For Jazz
By His Grace
Days Like This
Baby Please Don't Go/Don't Start Crying Now
Wild Night
Moondance
Brown Eyed Girl
Wild Honey
Whenever God Shines His Light
Precious Time
Jackie Wilson Said
Bright Side Of The Road
Real Real Gone
Think Twice Before You Go
And The Healing Has Begun
Things I Used To Do
The Way Young Lovers Do
Help Me
In The Garden
Gloria

Big Hand for The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards)
Bobby Ruggiero (Drums)
Dana Masters (Vocals)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

20-July-2015
Slieve Donard Hotel

 Newcastle, Northern Ireland


Setlist (Thanks Al B.)
Celtic Swing
Close Enough For Jazz
By His Grace
Carrying A Torch
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchman Farm/Stop Drinking/My Babe/Don't Start Crying Now
I Believe To My Soul
Moondance
Days Like This
Wild Night
Sometimes We Cry
Whenever God Shines His Light
In The Midnight
In The Afternoon
The Things I Used To Do
And The Healing Has Begun
Little Queenie
Help Me
Ballerina
In The Garden

Big Hand for The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards)
Bobby Ruggiero (Drums)
Dana Masters (Vocals)

19-July-2015
Slieve Donard Hotel

 Newcastle, Northern Ireland


Setlist (Thanks Niall C.)
Celtic Swing
Close Enough for Jazz
By His Grace 
Carrying a Torch
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchman Farm/Stop Drinking Wine
I Believe to my Soul
Blue Money
Once A Day
Days Like This
Precious Time
In The Afternoon/Burn Baby Burn
Whenever God Shines His Light
Moondance
In The Midnight
Things Used to Do
And The Healing Has Begun 
Help Me
Ballerina

Big Hand for The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards)
Bobby Ruggiero (Drums)
Dana Masters (Vocals)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

17-July-2015
Ghent Jazz Festival

 Ghent, Belgium



Setlist (Thanks Wim)
Celtic Swing
Close Enough For Jazz
By His Grace
Carrying A Torch (w/Dana Masters)
Baby Please Don't Go
I Believe To My Soul
Moondance
Days Like This
Precious Time
Tore Down A La Rimbaud
Enlightenment
In The Afternoon/Burn Baby Burn
Whenever God Shines His Light (w/Dana Masters)
Think Twice Before You Go
It's All Over Now Baby Blue
And The Healing Has Begun
Help Me
Ballerina
Gloria

Big Hand for The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards)
Bobby Ruggiero (Drums)
Dana Masters (Vocals)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Van Morrison Interview with David Freeman for a Blues and Boogie Special



Recorded July 5, 2015 in Brighton, England

Thursday, July 09, 2015

09-July-2015
The Marquee

 Cork, Ireland


Brendan sent in this review
This was Van Morrison’s first concert in Cork since he played the Marquee exactly 10 years ago this week when he was promoting the Magic Time album. From the outset tonight the omens were not good as the concert was delayed for 15 minutes to allow for the majority of the audience to be coaxed from the bars. Even at that some seemed to be trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records for the number of drinks that one could carry into the arena with two hands. The annoyance didn’t stop there as many around where I was seated proceeded to talk and indeed laugh loudly throughout the entire concert stopping only momentarily to check Facebook or to get more drinks from the bar. True music devotees!

As for the concert itself, well it was very much the greatest hits roadshow once more but thankfully with a few sublime moments included along the way. After opening with pretty mundane versions of Celtic Swing and Close Enough for Jazz we then got a really nice By His Grace followed by an excellent Carrying A Torch with Van and Dana Masters excelling on shared vocals. Van’s only dialogue with the audience came when he introduced the rhythm and blues medley of Baby Please Don’t Go/Parchman Farm and Don’t Start Crying Now by crediting the three songwriters and informing us that he didn’t write any of them and thought we should know that. He subsequently referred to his comedic activity during the songs as “theatre”. As per usual they were all expertly delivered and got a great response.Days Like This and Enlightenment were followed by one of the few real highlights with an extended In The Afternoon. Moondance was followed by the always superb I Believe To My Soul before Precious Time brought us back down to earth with a shudder. Sometimes We Cry gave Dana another chance to shine before another raft of hits followed in Here Comes The Night, Wild Night, Whenever God Shines His Light, Brown Eyed Girl and Jackie Wilson Said.

Think Twice Before You Go and Things I Used To Do were well delivered and received and were immediately followed by the real highlight of the night in an extended And The Healing Has Begun which was a somewhat more forceful version than usual and quite brilliant with Van singing and humming relentlessly over his own guitar playing.Van departed at that stage but returned for one of the best versions of Gloria I have heard, largely after Van had departed leaving the band to cut loose which they certainly did with Paul Moore producing some incredibly intricate bass lines and Paul Moran showing all his keyboard skills on a really funky workout. Even Dana Masters got in on the act as she produced some vocal acrobatics with a somewhat primitive wailing chant to the lyrics of Gloria. It is hard to describe but absolutely incredible and fully deserving of the huge roar of approval that followed.

The concert lasted 1 hour and 43 minutes and was largely pretty mediocre fare in my view but which thankfully included moments that were magical.

-Brendan Hynes

The Irish Examiner (Source)
There's always a tinge of nervousness in the crowd in the build-up to a Van Morrison concert. Which version of the notoriously grumpy Ulsterman will take to the stage? The showman or the grouch who performs with his back to the audience.

The crowd assembled at the Marquee in Cork last night quickly realised they had struck gold.

Van took to the stage at 8.15 and laid down a marker in the early numbers to prove he was there to put on a show.

"This is show business, it's called theatre," he told the audience three songs in, as the lights and the drummer punctuated Van's hand gestures. From Morrison, that's practically banter.

It was hard to believe it was a 69-year-old man delivering the pared-back and polished 100 minute set that spanned five decades of music.


Van performed with a four man band and one backing singer forming a tight semi-circle around him on stage. He contributed himself to the instruments as well as the vocals - playing sax, harmonica and guitar during the night.

The set list was a clear crowd pleaser; 'Carrying A Torch' gave way to a mellow version of 'Days Like This', highlighting brilliant vocals from both the man himself and the backing singer.

'Enlightenment' followed, and then 'Moondance' segued into 'I Believe To My Soul', with the full house hugely appreciative of the well-known tracks.

It was a tight performance, with barely a beat between tracks. When the opening chords of 'Brown-eyed Girl' drew cheers and whoops it was hard to believe we were already an hour into the show.

Van famously doesn't appreciate sing-alongs, but his most famous hit followed by 'Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in heaven when you smile)' had the crowd ready to take to their feet.

They got their chance at the finish. Van left the stage after 'The Healing has Begun' and came back to end with a performance of 'Gloria' that came from 1965.

Kinsale musician Barry Tierney, a lifelong Van fan who has seen him perform many times, said it best after the gig.

"That was something a bit special."

Setlist (Thanks Al B.)
Celtic Swing
Close Enough For Jazz
By His Grace
Carrying A Torch
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchman Farm/Cry Baby
Days Like This
Enlightenment
In The Afternoon/Burn Baby Burn
Moondance
I Believe To My Soul
Precious Time
Sometimes We Cry
Here Comes The Night
Wild Night
Whenever God Shines His Light
Brown Eyed Girl
Jackie Wilson Said
Think Twice Before You Go
Things I Used To Do
And The Healing Has Begun
Gloria

Big Hand for The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards)
Bobby Ruggiero (Drums)
Dana Masters (Vocals)

05-July-2015
Love Supreme Jazz Festival

 Sussex, England

Telegraph (Source)
It's been a good summer for Van Morrison, who has been knighted, honoured with the Johnny Mercer Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame and even got a hug from Lady Gaga.
As the closing act and headliner of the Love Supreme Festival last night he put on a remarkably upbeat and crowd-pleasing set that included versions of Gloria, Brown Eyed Girl, Wild Night, Moondance and a rare outing for Jackie Wilson Said.

The Love Supreme Festival, in Glynde Place, Sussex, is the UK’s only major greenfield jazz festival and there was a varied and vibrant line-up for its third year, which included Morrison, Dianne Reeves, Candi Staton and Lisa Stansfield.

Morrison, who is 70 in August, didn't speak much but was singing well and genuinely engaged with his set, which included cracking versions of Sonny Boy Williamson's Help Me and Ray Charles's I Believe To My Soul.

Over three days the festival featured more than 50 interesting and eclectic acts performing across four stages – big top, arena, bandstand and jazz lounge – and this year included Chaka Khan and Hugh Masekela. New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard gave a typically robust performance.

Among Saturday's highlights was a vibrant set featuring Jason Moran’s Elegy for Fats Waller, which had an encouragingly young jazz crowd up and dancing.

Hackney Colliery Band kicked off the action on the main stage on Sunday and although the weather was still gloomy, their set lifted the mood instantly. They even did a version of Kanye West's All of the Lights and joked that they hoped the crowd wouldn't boo because of that.

Gogo Penguin were on fine form on Saturday night in a packed The Arena, followed by an excellent set from Larry Graham.

One of the highlights of the Sunday programme was the impressive set from Florida-born Theo Croker. The 29-year-old trumpeter and bandleader – the grandson of Doc Cheatham – has charisma on stage and is a sophisticated player. His quintet, including the passionate tenor saxophone player Anthony Ware, played a lovely version of Joe Henderson's composition A Shade of Jade. And it was good to hear Pee Wee Ellis on tenor again as the former James Brown and Morrison musical director was playing with Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion.

That's one of the delights of Love Supreme. Modern intense jazz flows effortlessly alongside more popularist soul acts, and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. There are aromatherapy massages and organic food stalls galore and a record shop selling old jazz and folk LPs. There's even a hall of mirrors and carousel for kids.
The festival takes idyllic surroundings of the Sussex Downs, just next to Glyndebourne Opera house, and as the sun sets and you listen to Sir Van the Man wail out Gloria you can relish the jazz answer to Glastonbury – especially when he namechecks the late, great Jimmy Witherspoon in a superb version of And The Healing Has Begun.
-Martin Chilton

Setlist (Thanks Chris S.)
Celtic Swing
Close Enough For Jazz
By His Grace
Carrying A Torch
Baby Please Don't Go/Parchman Farm/Don't Start Crying Now
In The Afternoon/Ancient Highway/Big Joe Turner/Burn Baby Burn
Moondance
I Believe To My Soul
Whenever God Shines His Light
Precious Time
Days Like This
Wild Night
Brown Eyed Girl
Jackie Wilson Said
Think Twice Before You Go
Things I Used To Do
And The Healing Has Begun
Help Me
Gloria

Big Hand for The Band!
Dave Keary (Guitar)
Paul Moore (Bass)
Paul Moran (Keyboards)
Bobby Ruggiero (Drums)
Dana Masters (Vocals)