Paleo Retiree writes:
Did you notice the other day that Van Morrison received a Knighthood? As someone who has spent countless hours being charmed and transported by his music — Sir Van has been to me what Bob Dylan has been to many other Boomers — I was thrilled. As someone who has spent many evenings exploring the concerts of Sir Van’s that are on YouTube, I’m celebrating his Knighthood by presenting the two concerts of his that I’m fondest of. The Montreux show is tighter and jazzier; the Belfast one is in his more usual loose, Celtic/Beat bard sound. Fantastic bands in both cases.
Small note: Van is a notoriously prickly guy as well as a legendarily uneven performer. The only time I saw him live the concert was a huge stinker, one of the most disappointing shows I’ve ever attended. But the shows I’m featuring here I enthusiastically endorse.
- Some notes I made about Van back at my old blog. The comments on the posting are very interesting.
Saw him once at the Guiness Fleadh festival in SF many years ago, and yeah, he was terrible, but I’d also heard of his unpredictable performances, so I chalked it up to that. His performance in the concert film The Last Waltz is really good, spandex jumpsuit and awkward karate kicks notwithstanding. Astral Weeks is one of my all-time favorite records, so loose and meandering, and Van’s vocal phrasing very Coltrane-esque.
I’ve found that not a lot of my Gen X peers are into him. He’s one of the Boomer classic rock guys whose appeal isn’t that multi-generational. His voice can be an acquired taste, kind of like John Fogerty’s.
Ha, just remembered, in that Last Waltz performance, he just walks off stage (giving one last half-hearted karate kick on the way out, so good) in mid chorus towards the end and The Band look surprised but shrug it off like, “Oh, I guess Van is done.” Great stuff.
Can’t beat this, it’s a master class:
That’s a pickup band the Montreux people put together for him in 1974; they did the TV gig to warm up. He’d never met those guys. I saw Fugazi at their height and they didn’t put out more energy than this.
He played with Peter Van Hooke for years after that. That’s Van Hooke drumming in both your videos.
Peter Van Hooke is great here. As a drummer myself, I love how he changes up from a typical backbeat in the first verse to a four on the floor quarter note beat in the second verse, then back to the backbeat in the second chorus. Really builds the song, and is a textbook example of how a drummer can (and should, unless you’re Buddy Rich or Keith Moon) play within the song while directing and propelling its energy. Van Hooke is damn funky for a Swiss dude, too. Great clip, thanks for sharing.
I had the great good fortune of seeing Van in what I guess was 1979 or 1980. He was touring around the great “Into the Music” album.
Funny story. The Daily News at the time was having a concert tickets giveaway: fill out the form, mail it in, win tickets. Well I won tickets… for The Knack! But guess what? There was such hysteria over them (for about a week) that the News couldn’t get tickets. So they sent me an apology along with two tickets for Van Morrison. Well that was OK by me.
It was a spectacular performance. Only time I saw him, so I guess I got lucky. He did a great job on the songs from “Into the Music.” I remember “Angeliou” was a standout. Van would bring it way down, then the band came crashing back in and Van would roar “Annnnnnnge-liouuuu!” I think “And the Healing Has Begun” from that record is one of Van’s top few songs. And if you don’t tap your feet when “You Make Me Feel So Free” comes on, then you’re dead.
Pingback: Curation: “Rhythm of the Rain” | Uncouth Reflections