Van Morrison at 73 is one of the elder statesmen of Rock and it was great to have him in Hull for the inauguration of our new Arena.
The last time I saw Van was with Them back in 1965. Baby Please Don’t Go was still in the charts and Here Comes The Night had just been released. I was fifteen years old at the time and that band, only the second band I’d ever seen live, made quite an impression on me.
Them were pretty raw and exciting and Van was a young man of nineteen with long hair with a very powerful Blues voice.
His appearance has changed a little over those intervening fifty three years but that voice has only got better. At seventy two he is still going strong.
Photo – Hull Daily Mail – no copyright infringement intended
Van played an hour and a half set that was non-stop. There were no introductions between songs, no chatter and hardly a pause. The only time he spoke was towards the end when he said thank you and then again when he acknowledged the band.
He came on stage with his saxophone and began with some laid-back jazzy numbers. This was followed by a great little set of Blues numbers – Baby Please Don’t Go, Don’t Start Crying Now, Got My Mojo Working and I Can Tell – that reminded me of those heady days in the sixties with Them. This six piece band, with their keyboards, xylophone, brass, bass, guitar, female backing singer and percussion were really slick. They weren’t the raw energy of Them but they nailed it with precision and skill in a more sophisticated manner that still retained that earthiness. Van’s voice was every bit as good as it ever was – if not better.
What followed were some of his great standards – such as Moondance, Have I told You Lately That I Love You and the fabulous Warm Love.
At the end the crowd were on their feet and he did two encores – No Guru No Method No Teacher and finishing with what must be his signature song – Brown Eyed Girl.
The end was a bit different though. I did take some of my old albums along to see if I could get them signed. I didn’t expect much but last time I’d seen him with them we were invited backstage and they whole band signed postcards of the band. I had two signed by Van and the whole of the original band. Sadly I gave one to a friend and my Mum chucked the other one out! I lived in hope. But as the band entertained us Van walked straight out the back to a waiting car and was gone. Times change!
A great way to get the Arena off the ground though!
Happy Birthday Van – August 31st – 73 years old today!!