The two shows at the circus-tent-like Tempodrom in Berlin on Friday and Saturday were not sold out entirely. But the craig was good, Van and his band in superb shape and the audience – many of them young people – enjoyed it.
Support act was Shirley Grimes again – maybe Van could change that for the next German concerts ? Annoying as well was the fact that on both evenings many people arrived late, long after Van had begun to sing. Looking for their seats in the dark is definitely distracting the people being on time from concentrating on the music …
Van kept it simple again, this time not the entire new album as in Cologne and Frankfurt. Just 5 songs on Friday and 7 on Saturday. When announcing these he muttered:
“Keep it simple – I really wish it was …”
First half of the show was more or less routine, nothing new on the set list, and I thought by myself: It’s becoming a bit boring – the same songs again and again … Van played a lot of sax in Berlin + a bit of ukulele, harp, guitar and piano. It was great pleasure again to witness how the band enjoyed playing together. They laid down a number of beautiful solos. Poor Paul Moran had a lot to do with playing both keyboard and trumpet. Sarah Jory on the steel guitar got much applause for her passionate playing – the crowd loved it a lot.
‘Moondance’ seems to be the favorite crowd pleaser these days - no more Glorias and BEG’s ! In particular the young people in Germany obviously love that song. Interesting – but I must admit that it was again a flawless and superb jazzy performance of that old standard. Stunning solos of the band, light reflexions of a starry sky on the dark stage background – really beautiful. It’s just that we heard this song so often …
The titles were taken at a pretty fast pace, no breaks, one well-knowned tune following the other, but the best was yet to come:
‘In The Afternoon’ leading into a few other tunes making Van mumble “… meanwhile, back in the jungle”. And he continued with a few lines of ‘Ancient Highway’, fading out and repeating over and over the words “…don’t you get me high”, leading into ‘Raincheck’ with name checks of a few other songs including a few lines of ‘So Quiet In Here’. Van’s soft singing in the end was accompanied by and interwoven with Paul’s gently playing a muted trumpet before the song finally faded out. What a wonderful moment !! There was such a subtlety of tone and gentless in playing that the audience held its breath – a pin could have been heard dropping. But then the crowd started its applause, shouted, whistled – and the magic was gone. Who knows - maybe he would have continued for a while if the crowd had remained silent ???
It went on with a cheerful ‘Star Of The County Down’ with Van showing us directions. Followed by a nice ‘Behind The Ritual’ leaving the audience in disbelief when Van was walking off the stage, still singing.
But surprise - he came back to give us the second highlight of the night – ‘Healing Has Begun’. Great version including window sill stuff and lots of backstreet jelly roll, but leaving out most of the spoken part.
All in all it was a superb concert on Friday and everybody was happy. The young and new fans for all they got, the older ones for some very special moments we shared.
Van was in great shape and mood but not very talkative. Yes, we realized – he was saying politely ‘dankeschoen’ twice !! He seemed to be quite fit again, sometimes almost jumping (!) a bit during singing. No more chairs on stage for him to sit down …