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VAN MORRISON - LIVE - THE PERFORMANCES
2009-04-19last public update: Monday, 17-Feb-2020 13:39:37 CET
on 20APR2009 from nosey
Van came on about 10 mins late (and didn't offer any excuses), went
straight into Northern Muse (which was better than last night), come to
think of it, it was quite a good rendition, followed by Troubadour (again,
much better than last night). And it Stoned Me and Wild Night were next
although I didn't think much of these two. Then came the proper version of HITYL
with Van playing sax for the first time this evening, again nothing
The next 3 songs were GREAT, Caravan, Game and Healing Has Begun.
BUT Common One was absolutely stunning, Van and Richie (as echo) were
brilliant, the line where Van says "Going for a long long long drive" must have
had about 40 "longs" in it, the audience even started to applaude part way
through, but they just carried on regardless, just terrific. A much better
1st set than last night.
Now, the 2nd set (IMHO) was probably THE BEST 2nd SET so far.
Van just kept playing guitar at the end of Astral Weeks, as if he was
almost rehearsing by himself with the band just following him.
Beside You had haunting violin pieces that just made my spine tingle.
Slim Slow Slider was great with Van doing that heavy strumming thing that
he does lately.
Sweet Thing (Misty you missed a stunner) This was an outstanding version,
Van was virtually dancing at the end of this, then just seemed to be staring
upwards (to heaven ?) at the very end.
Cyprus Avenue, we got a change of white guitars, this version was
relatively short, but still very good.
Ballerina, When Van sang "Here comes the Man" he actually Jumped forward
(with both feet at the same time)
Young Lovers Do was another shortish version
Madame George, we got an introduction Van said something about part of the
song was around here somewhere (meaning West London, I guess) then he went
on to say that he was offered some Heroin !!!!
The second white guitar was now "out of tune" so we got the 1st one back
(or are ther 3 ?). This was probably one of the best ever versions I've heard
and at the end Van sang "This is a Train" so many different ways, it
sounded like he wasn't sure if he was on a train, or if a train actually
existed, Tremendous, absolutely tremendous.
LTTL - WHEW, just about all I can say about it just another stunning
Finishing up with Mystic Eyes into Gorilla and no encore.
A much better 1st set with an outstanding 2nd set.
You Just wait .........................
on 20APR2009 from Alan D.
I can entirely agree with Nosey, this was a far superior show to Sat. The Sweet Thing and Ballerina were heavenly, during ST I felt I could happily jump off the top circle and float to the stalls, and you know, if it turned out to be more sudden than floating, that would have been OK too !
Because of the late start we had only (!) about 53 mins of 1st half, and the whole concert did not end till 22.53. Real value for money to those used to the 90 min clock.
I think someone must have asked Van, if as he says performing is all that he likes, why has he been stinting himself with that damn clock for these past years ? And he has listened.
Also, somehow his finally re-connecting with Astral Weeks after 40 years of Dramshambo and other hustles (hassles ?) has in some way healed HIM.
As good as HB Sat, and one of the best shows I have seen.
on 20APR2009 from Wim
my God (I am not religious but what else can you say after an astral weekend in London),
everytime I t t try to speak my t t t tongue get t t t s...
let me be brief for now: the atmosphere of the Hollywood bowl was magic, the pre-show was unbeatable and the knowledge that we were about to watch a once-in-a-lifetime experience made it a very special LA weekend; but man, London was even better
sorry, Nosey, but the first set of Saturday was better than any Van show of the last three years (except the astral weeks ones of course), the ballerina of Saturday was better than anything in Hollywood...
but the Sunday show became the apex of my Van-life: a shorter but more intense first set and then an astral weeks set beyond words: astral weeks, beside you, slim slow slider, sweet thing (with an ending of about three million minutes), ballerina and listen to the lion with versions that were simply definite, I want them now on a dvd!
(btw on Sunday Van brought the way young lovers between ballerina and madame george, that worked well for me)
on 20APR2009 from Helen Brown (The Telegraph)
Van Morrison performing Astral Weeks live at the Albert Hall, review
After a tight compendium of greatest hits, Van Morrison performed his album Astral Weeks at the Albert Hall with his trademark blend of beauty and belligerence.
The original blues brother, a pale and jowly Van Morrison hit the stage in shades and a battered black fedora that he appeared to have spent the last week sitting on. He plonked himself down at the piano with all the grace of a darts player returning to a bar stool. This was the man from whom we were expecting an evening of weightless, transcendent poetry.
For tonight Morrison was performing his hallowed 1968 album, Astral Weeks, in its entirety for the first time outside the US. Recorded when Morrison was 23, Astral Weeks wove the Belfast boy's American jazz and soul influences into his celtic folk heritage. Instantly hailed a masterpiece (although it took until 2001 to turn "gold"), it is
37 minutes of unsurpassed, mystical mind-drift.
So I panicked when the critic beside me raised a purposeful pen to "see how he's changed the running order". Apparently shows in the US saw the set list reconfigured. I've listened to Astral Weeks hundreds of times, but I realised that recalling the running order would be like remembering the chronology of a dream.
Luckily for lucid journalism, Astral Weeks came after the interval, so I can tell you that the first set was a tight compendium of greatest hits including a rollicking, raw Baby, Please Don't Go, a strangely syncopated Wild Night (during which he seemed intent on throwing his poor backing singers off kilter with unexpected scat sections), a freshly staccato Moondance, a schmaltzy Have I Told You Lately and an absolutely glorious, extended Caravan, where he dropped the band's volume right down before bawling "Turn it up! Radio! So you know, s'got soul!"
Morrison showed off by playing piano, harmonica, saxophone, organ and guitar. I also noticed the vocal tic of repeating words and syllables which often has the exultant effect of making him sound (as Lester Bangs once said) like a man running downhill into a lover's arms, but also makes him sound like Yogi Bear when the syllable in question is "bo-bo-bo-bo".
The hideous leather suit in which Morrison appeared after the interval made me glad that Astral Weeks is music for closed eyes. I can tell you that the first lines of the album – "If I ventured in the slipstream - Between the viaducts of your dreams" – were also the first he sang live. After that it was, mostly, a lovely blur.
With his trademark blend of beauty and belligerence, Morrison barked those evocative pictures of autumn leaves, cherry wine and ecstatic love like a sleeping drunk being moved on from a shop doorway. The über-professional band sometimes seem a bit too tight for the floatiness of the material and Morrison led them into a couple of chugga-chugga rockouts which stalled, rather than stretched, the mood. But I was totally lost on Madame George.
When Morrison roused us with a raucous finale of Gloria, I realised that my pen had long since slid from my pad, revealing around 37 minutes of ink-stain soaked into my skirt.
on 20APR2009 from Stephen Graham (JazzWise)
Until the weekend Van Morrison had never performed his 40-year old album Astral Weeks live in London. Last night, the second of the two performances, saw the classic album brought to life, with the songs in a different order in the second half of a show which also included a preliminary 50 minutes of some of Morrison’s well known songs including ‘And It Stoned Me’ and ‘Caravan’, both from Morrison’s other classic album Moondance.
Joining him was an enlarged guitar-led band with saxophone, strings, two drummers, backing singers and the guitarist from Astral Weeks, Jay Berliner. The London concerts followed the first ever performances of the music from the album live in their entirety last year in Los Angeles, at the Hollywood Bowl. While the new live album which has just come out differs in tone from the original album, it was clear from last night that the music from Astral Weeks has a conceptual flow and beauty that belies the passing of the years. Its dream-like quality, spontaneity, serenity and warmth is overwhelming. With the new structure of the music allowing ‘Madame George’ to be sung last, it also provided an insight about the “protagonist” in the song from Van, who otherwise spoke little throughout the concert. ‘The Way Young Lovers Do’, in some ways was the late gear change which took the edge of the seriousness of ‘Slim Slow Slider’ and earlier despair of ‘Beside You’, while ‘Cyprus Avenue’ receded in terms of importance in the new context. The standing ovation at the end of a superb concert was completely deserved.
on 20APR2009 from John Aizlewood (Evening Standard)
Van the Man takes us on magical mystery tour
Emotional and uplifting: Van Morrison played his 1968 album Astral Weeks in its entirety for two nights at the Albert Hall
It’s hard to fathom why Van Morrison, never looking back except to mull over real and imagined ancient slights, has decided to re-visit Astral Weeks, arguably his best-loved album. But, 41 years on, he’s decided to play it in its entirety. Perhaps given the mean-spiritedness of his recent output, he feels the need to embrace more innocent, more optimistic times.
Hiding behind sunglasses and underneath a hat (although some curiously orange hair protruded at neck level) and wearing a dark leather suit which cast him as a giant overcooked chipolata, the 63-year-old gave almost nothing away during last night’s second of two Albert Hall shows — Eric Clapton attended on Saturday, Yusuf Islam yesterday — deigning only to speak when introducing Astral Weeks’s centrepiece Madame George, cheerily explaining that the song was set close to South Kensington and that its protagonist had smoked opium.
More chat and more explanation would have been welcome — he might well be worth listening to — but the music itself was timeless in 1968 and in 2009 this engrossing, singular, often magical song cycle remains more than capable of luxuriating in the embrace of an 11-strong, tightly rehearsed band including guitarist Jay Berliner who played on the original.
And while Morrison may be looking back, he was not standing still, tinkering with the running order, turning the sprawling Ballerina into near-gospel and Sweet Thing into a rollercoaster where Morrison’s acoustic guitar battled with Richie Buckley’s flute and both emerged victorious.
Cleverly, Astral Weeks was only the second half of the tale. Before the interval, his band numbered 15 and Morrison grappled with some old favourites, not inevitably to be confused with old hits.
Testing his clearly terrified accomplices, Morrison abandoned any set list and barked out song titles as they began, forcing those who were multi-instrumentalists into momentary panic. And once the musicians eased themselves into a song, Morrison conducted them with his hands behind his back, altering volume and tempo as the mood took him, all while facing the audience.
The tension was almost palpable and it made for edge-of-the-seat fare. I swear Morrison chuckled loudly during a startlingly urgent trek through Caravan, which veered from gruff bluster to something transcendentally spiritual, while And The Healing Has Begun and the call and response vocal duet with Buckley on Common One were so emotionally uplifting, you could forgive Morrison almost anything. Even that tuft of orange hair and those leather trousers…
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