Van Morrison: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

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Van Morrison

Van Morrison

As Van Morrison continues to roll with the punches, Getintothis’ Craig MacDonald finds a man at the peak of his powers.

Having never witnessed Van Morrison in the flesh, the one constant we kept hearing as we gathered in the bustling foyer of the Philharmonic Hall was that Van The Man, is never, ever, late.

Following a quick rush to our seats, sure enough, bang on time walks Mr Van Morrison, looking as cool as the late autumn night.

It doesn’t take long for Van to have the capacity crowd in the palm of his hand as he twists through a blues fused Moon Dance.

It’s the first but not the last of his classics to get a makeover before the nights out.

A rasping version of Too Much Trouble demonstrates that while many in the crowd would have come to have seen him play the standards, there are plenty that continue to love his latest material.

He ploughs through with passion, bursting the air with punches, as he unifies all to his lead.

By the time that he serenades us with a delightful version of Magic Time, what has become abundantly and surprisingly clear for this first timer, is just how good a musician the Ulster man actually is.

Van Morrison Top Ten

He knows every beat. Every tap of the xylophone. Every bass riff like that back of his hand as he charms us with his faultless saxophone and piano playing.

Credit where credit is due, Van Morrison has an exceptional band up his sleeve too.

They are able to flick between soul, R&B to all out jazz with effortless ease, with Broken Record capturing their talents perfectly.

An almost swing version of Have I Told You Lately once again highlights the ever-evolving Van at his best, before a searing Into The Garden leads us into an all out romp of Gloria.

Cue mass dancing in the aisles, boxes and up above as all of us sing ‘G-L-O-R-I-A’ long after Van has said his goodbyes and left his band to it.

Afterwards, we make the traditional quick hop over the road to get a reflective drink where we are met by some saying “why doesn’t he play those songs like they sound?

Well, the answer is quite simple. Because he can and he will.

Here is a man who has evolved the sound of rhythm and blues, jazz and soul more so then most in the last five decades, so if he wants to play his songs that way, he is perfectly entitled to and he does so brilliantly.

If anything, tonight has proven that Van Morrison is still craving to adapt and find new music that he loves to play, with his more recent material at times better received then his earlier work. Van is most definitely still The Man.

Photos by Getintothis’ Warren Millar 

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