Van Update

01 Mar

ETA:  Here is the NY Times review of Van’s NYC show.  Just an observation….this review was all over the place.  I couldn’t get a handle on if he loved it or hated it.  Perhaps he just didn’t understand it.

Shrew has reported in.  Because of the wunderbar technology of the iPhone, I relentlessly bugged her by emailing, “Are you there yet?”,  just about every 15 minutes.  She let me know when she got on the train and again when they got to their seats.

Pretty good seats

…she sent back.  Evidence of said “pretty good seats”…


Who’s the ghoul in the forefront?

Anyway, while I was enthralled in watching my kid’s soccer tournament on the interwebs, an email alert pops up with the following message…

Voice is perfect!
No set list but he did 
And it stoned me
At James infirmary (ripped it up too)
Comfortably numb
And a town called paradise
Fabulous weird little dude
And, about an hour later, this follow-up….
The Astral Weeks portion of the show was like good perfume. Heady, intoxicating and elusive, leaving you wanting more.  
More tomorrow 
Absolutely love the description.  Saturday morning she sent me this final recollection of Sweet Thing….
Infront of a backdrop pinpoint lights, Van Morrison began to strum the hypnotic melody.  Morrison is like a musical instrument of the muses and gods letting each note radiate outward from all of his being.  He is at the same time; lost in the music allowing the audiance in on his deeply personal dance with each measure and very present, conducting his orchestra with minimal twitches and hand gestures.  Each wave of music that emminated from Morrison on Sweet Thing, seemed to spread to each member of the band. The measures building to a soul filling swell seemed to swirl all around us.  The sound was deeply familiar and yet spontanious.  At one point I was transported to a younger self.  I had the impression of a warm summer night watching the song unfold under the cover of stars.

I want more.

Ah yes.  As it should be.
While Shrew attended the Friday night concert, Little Deb took in the Saturday night gig.  Here is her “review”:
First, I have to admit that I was not a huge Van Morrison fan. No dislike, just uneducated. I love the Moondance album and have always loved his voice, I just never actively pursued his other music. I was even a little leary because I enjoy concerts the most when I know a lot of the songs being performed. Before a few days ago, I had never ever listened to Astral Weeks. So shoot me okay.  I remedied that by an itunes emergency download and played the album a a bunch before the concert. Beautiful music, but I still wasn’t sure how the concert would go for me. I even told the hubby that we couldn’t eat too big of a dinner or have too many glasses of wine because I wanted to stay awake. Little did I know.

I’ve been to a lot of concerts over the years and have been wowed and disappointed. Without sounding over the top here, I’ll try to explain the experience. As I said above, Van Morrison defines the term “a voice is an instrument”. Truly a genius at his craft. He changes up the songs to fit the moment.  He directs the band with hand signals and called out instructions and it all flows so damn smoothly that it’s almost unreal. It was 2 1/2 hours of musical bliss. It didn’t matter that I did not know all the songs. At the risk of sounding corny and cliched(sp), I would have been happy if he sang and the band played the damn phone book. First time I’ve ever said that.

The band was amazing – really amazing. I want to marry the violin/fiddle player. At times he played a violin virtuoso, other times some of the best country fiddle. At one point – and I wish I could remember the damn song – Van and the trumpet (I think) player did this echo thing. Van would speak/sing the words, with the other guy following one step behind. The only way to describe it simply would be sort of like “row, row, row your boat”. It was awesome. Maybe some of the educated Van fans can help me out on what the song was.

After the first set, we were told there would be a 5 minute intermission. WTF? 5 minutes. I’m wondering if that was his idea. The funny part of this was that there was the usual women’s room line 5 miles long. I had to go, so was set to miss the first few numbers of the next set. There was a woman attendant in the ladies room Demanding that the women move. “Come on ladies, just pee and get the hell out of there. Mr. Morrison’s gonna be singing soon. Move it, move it, move it.” She marched those women through there like a drill sargeant. I want to hire this woman to be at every concert I attend from here on. It worked. I was back in my seat as the beginning chords of the first song were played. Really, this woman needs to be knighted or something.

The second set was Astral Weeks in it’s entirety. Not one minute of the concert was anything less than pure musical magic. The audience sat quietly and LISTENED instead of jumping around, singing along and carrying on. That was so damn refreshing. I go to concerts to listen. Dance around and sing along at home when you won’t ruin anyone else’s experience. Really, you could hear a pin drop during the entire performance. PERFECT. And people remained seated and just gave standing O’s at the end of songs. It was almost like the audience was in awe and since I was, I bet they were too.

On a side note, a few strange things. Shrew, was this your experience?  When we got there we were informed by event employees that they had just stopped serving alcohol by request. What? Not a big deal, but strange. This was not a rowdy crowd. As we walked through to get to our seat, all the bars were putting the bottles and glasses away. So they were already set up to serve drinks and all of a sudden shut down. Then the 5 minutes only intermission thing. Perhaps a crotchety Van request at the last minute? “These people came hear to hear me sing and play and I want them in their damn seats and not wandering around getting drinks and going to the bathroom”. During the entire performance, I did not see one person get up to go to the bathroom. Really.

So, on to the songs. I did not take a pen and paper to write down the set lists. Too much work to interrupt my enjoyment. The ones I remember are Domino, And It Stoned Me, Brown Eyed Girl, Gloria, Listen to the Lion and a truly amazing rendition of Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. Seriously – Comfortably Numb. It started with a female back-up singer and was hauntingly beautiful. I think I like it better than Floyd. He also did a song that I know was a Ray Charles country song. I know he’s recorded I Can’t Stop Loving You, but it wasn’t that one. I still can’t believe that I can’t remember what it was.  Again, shrew – any help here since I know what a big twang fan you are.

I’m still scouring the internet for a concert review or a set list. The second set was Astral Weeks and some other stuff too. I think I remember almost all of the songs, just not what order. The Healing Game was in there too. And we were also graced with two encores.

Let’s just say that I was utterly and completely WOWED.

As a side note. I’ve been doing a lot of research today of Van’s stuff (which you true fans already know).  The man has covered the entire music spectrum. Which got me to thinking. I’ve read and heard other artists say that their album “will have a Van Morrison feel”. Not knocking any other artists here, but that would be totally impossible. Which Van Morrison? There is no Van mold as far as I can tell.

And MM, he did a beautiful rendition of Sweet Thing just for you.

Yea, I guess I’m a fan now.

Awesome.  Thank you both for the great descriptions and sharing your Van encounters.  You both got to experience one of the truly original masters of modern music.  So wonderful that he’s still making music that he shares with fans old and new.

P.S.  Little Deb, could the song have been What Am I Living For?

  Chuck Willis


8 responses to “Van Update

  1. huckleberryfriend

    March 1, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks Shrew, Little Deb, and MM,

    I need to go to a Van Morrison concert while he is still singing and I am still going.

  2. little Deb

    March 1, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Okay, I just found this about the echo thing.

    Summertime in England/A Town Called Paradise – This is an odd mashup of pieces from both these two songs, and most of this performance was given over to the call-and-response with the sax player. For those not familiar with it, Van will sing a short phrase and the sax player has to repeat it exactly a second later, almost like a human echo. It’s a lot of fun musically, and Van was doing his best to try and trip up the sax player. He was laughing at one point, until finally the sax player was allowed to rip into a solo.

    And MM, I’m thinking that I’m a really bad country fan and it must have been I Can’t Stop Loving You. It wasn’t the one you posted.

    Here’s a link to a few reviews from people who were at shrew’s concert.

  3. little Deb

    March 1, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Not from last night, but here’s the echo thing. It was awesome. They were laughing and cuttin’ up.

  4. little Deb

    March 2, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Since I’m currently on the Van bandwagon. He’ll be performing tonight on Jimmy Fallon’s first show at 12:30 a.m. on NBC. And tomorrow 3/3 on Regis and Kelly. Mr. Hicks is on Regis today, bet he wishes he was on tomorrow. And, go here for a great version of Sweet Thing.

  5. shrewspeaks

    March 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

    The NYTimes gave Van the Man a tough review. I thought the evening was money well spent!

    Little Deb you are so correct about “the style of Van” it is way too hard to to pin down. If you listen to his ‘Keep It Simple’…he revels in all genres, country, rock a billy, blues, jazz and good old rock as well as folk to name a few.

  6. LISA

    March 2, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    The NYTimes person just dosen’t get Van Morrison. Great recaps everyone.

  7. little Deb

    March 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Either the NY Times guy was not at the same concert I was, or he was pissed off that they shut down the bars.

    Thanks shrew. I’ll check out Keep It Simple.

  8. Matti

    March 3, 2009 at 1:35 am

    Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Have You Ever Stayed Awake at Night Stressing About Whether or Not Your Marriage Will Last … And What You Can Possibly Do to Save It?


Leave a Reply to LISA Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: