on 18JUL2006 from Rob Sykes (BBC)
Review: Van Morrison at Blickling
The legendary Van Morrison returned to Blickling Hall for the second time in three years but with little rapport between Van The Man and the crowd, it seemed like he was just going through the motions, writes Rob Sykes.
Support was provided by Matt Dusk. The Canadian crooner took to the stage with his orchestra and wowed the audience with his smooth tones.
Rob Sykes gives the show 5 out of 5 stars.
Looking dapper in his suit and tie combo, he performed big band staples such as The Best Is Yet To Come and Get Me To The Church On Time.
Despite being 27, Matt has a voice that is beyond his years. Picking songs that are often better suited to older performers, his confidence and ability won over a crowd who were perhaps more used to the original versions.
The highlight came when he performed U2's Two Shots Of Happy, One Shot Of Sad. The song was written by Bono and The Edge for Frank Sinatra but he never had a chance to record it.
Matt Dusk did get the chance and his performance would have pleased Ol’ Blue Eyes himself.
Van's early arrival
Van Morrison arrived on stage with the minimum of fuss at the surprisingly early time of 8.15pm.
Van has a reputation these days for being awkward, so it may have contributed to the lack of enthusiasm that greeted him – slight cheering and a round of applause!
He played a succession of classic songs including Sometimes We Cry and Bright Side Of The Road as well as the deliciously bluesy St James Infirmary, but you couldn’t help feeling something was missing.
There seemed to be no connection between Van Morrison and his fans.
He didn’t speak to his fans and the audience's response was muted. It was all a bit too polite – everybody remained seated and restrained themselves to clapping.
The ever-popular Moondance provided one of the highlights. It was interesting to hear the way his voice has matured to fill the song.
Never one to hold back on his vocals in the past, the deepening of his tones with age gave the song an extra depth that was lacking on the original.
It was contrasted with his performance of Brown Eyed Girl. The song's rockier lilt was beyond his capabilities these days and is better suited to the Van Morrison of Them fame.
He rounded off the evening with a spine-tingling version of Gloria. With his suit, hat and sax he looked every-inch the old blues man and his performance matched the appearance.
It may well have left the crowd with an over-positive perception of the show.
Nobody can doubt his ability to write amazing songs and his adeptness at performing them live was exemplary. It was like listening to the record at times. Which was the problem. You couldn’t help feeling he didn’t want to be there.
In a career that has spanned the decades and taken in just about every rock 'n' roll joint in cities around the world, you wondered if Blickling was below him.
He turned up, played his classic hits and then left. No encore, no back chat, little effort.
Sorry Van, you’re a genius but at £40 a ticket the fans want a bit more for their money!
Not everybody felt that way. The enduring image of the night was of a couple dancing together to Have I Told You Lately.
Completely oblivious to the world around them as they held each other tight, they were immersed in the music and each other. It’s just a shame Van Morrison didn’t seem to feel the same way.