I first saw Van Morrison at Birmingham’s Rainbow Suite club in 1965. I was a precocious under-age youngster; Van Morrison had already had two huge pop hits with Baby Please Don’t Go and Here Comes The Night with his Belfast band Them.
Even then, Van Morrison was a maverick. During the set he wandered offstage, leaving the audience perplexed. A few minutes later he strolled back on, astonishing the young crowd by swigging from a bottle of Guinness and smoking a cigarette. Unprofessional? Perhaps. A bad example? Maybe. Cool and unforgettable? Definitely.
Almost 50 years on, Van Morrison now has his drinks brought on stage for him, but shows no sign of stopping.
Opening with the catchy Brown Eyed Girl, backed by a stonkin’ seven-piece band, Van Morrison’s music is a smooth, moody blend of jazz, blues and Celtic rock.
His textured voice is another instrument, driving the lyric, swooping and whooping, occasionally scat-singing.
Particularly outstanding were the hypnotic This Is It, the atmospheric In The Garden, and the hooky Moondance.
The musical arrangements are tight and contrasting, ranging from almost whispered vocals across instrumental spaces, to full blasting melodies. Van Morrison also excels on saxophone, harmonica and guitar.
The show-stopping finale was the classic garage anthem G-l-o-r-i-a, which was actually the B-side of Baby Please Don’t Go, which started it all for Van the Man in 1964.
In 2012, the Belfast Cowboy still managed to rock the Bournemouth Pavilion!