Delaware On-Line - Ryan Cormier
Van Still the Man in Rousing Tower Concert
UPPER DARBY, Pa. -- Leaving his reputation as a grouch at the stage door, a playful Van Morrison closed out his two-night residency at the Tower Theater on Friday night, showering his fans with a generous night of hits, forgotten songs and hidden gems.
The 62-year-old Irishman, who returned to the Tower for the first time since 1978, is known for being stingy when it comes to performing his best known songs.
But on Friday, Morrison dug out a jazzy version of "Moondance" midway through the 100-minute show before closing out the night with a powerful one-two punch: an all-acoustic rendering of "Brown Eyed Girl" followed by 1964's "Gloria." "Tupelo Honey" was also included in the 17-song set.
In a blue suit and black fedora, Morrison mined his 40-plus-year career backed by a nine-piece band, himself jumping among guitar, saxophone, harmonica, piano and ukulele throughout the night.
In the evening's most unusual moment, he sang Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," which he originally performed with Roger Waters in 1990 -- a song that re-emerged thanks to its inclusion in Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" and "The Sopranos." Even though Morrison forgot the name of the song, read the lyrics and missed two lines, it was spine-tingling to watch him bellow the song's chorus.
On "Ballerina" from his seminal "Astral Weeks" album, Morrison showed off his trademark soulful delivery, repeating words at a spitfire pace and stretching others like Silly Putty.
In a moment of improvisation, Morrison motioned for his piano player to move out of the way, nearly knocking him from his bench. Morrison leaned over the piano, played a bit with one hand while holding his guitar in the other as his devoted followers cheered.
Throughout, he smiled and joked with the audience and the band, even letting out a "Yip! Yip!" after singing, "Now they're moaning like a dog in a manger," during "Rough God Goes Riding."
The most gleeful moment for Morrison appeared to come during "That's Entrainment" from his new album "Keep It Simple," which entered the Billboard charts at No. 10 in April, the highest debut for any album of his career.
Morrison, shuffling from side to side and playing a ukulele, danced along as he seductively sang, "Want you to shake your money maker, want you to shake 'em on down!"
He would later improvise once again during the sexed-up "In The Afternoon," singing,
"Don't you feel my leg
'Cause if you feel my leg
You'll wanna feel my thigh
If you feel my thigh
You'll want to move up high."
Morrison did not just sing his songs, he embodied them with his left hand tightly gripping the gold microphone stand while the other twitched with every word.
His blink-and-you-missed-it six-date North America tour ended Saturday night at the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City.
And if you think the Tower Theater tickets ranging from $75 to $350 were costly, they were $125-$500 for the Atlantic City show. At $500 a ticket, that's about $5 a minute.
But on Friday, fans didn't have much to complain about. They got Van the Man on a good night. Given his limited touring schedule, especially in the United States, let's just hope it's not another 30 years before he returns.