Van Morrison at the Odyssey

Tonight I got to see and hear Van Morrison live at the Odyssey.  What a great night 🙂

He hasn’t changed since the last time I saw him – he still has no interest in talking (the only words he said all night were to thank the audience, and to get the audience to applaud the band). But he lets his music do the talking for him. As I remember from before, he leads his band all the way – waving at them, pointing, talking to them, directing the music. And he loses himself in it too, the head nodding, and applauding some of the solos.

But what made this concert special was that he doesn’t have a new album to sell this time round. So instead of new songs the audience doesn’t know, this was mainly old songs that we did know. But not as we know them. His band included a trombone and saxaphone, plus a part time trumpet and keyboard player (an odd combo I thought). So it went from having the feel of a jazz quartet when he joined in on his sax, to a solid horn section backing up the rest of the band (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums and more percussion) with brass stabs. As always, the arrangements were really good, with some really subtle details on muted trumpet and tinkly piano. He started with a great, really fresh version of brown eyed girl with very jazzy horns. My immediate thought was “Wow – he’s still got it. Michael Buble or Jamie Cullum could be singing that arrangement”. And I was really pleased about that, because Van is getting on a bit, but he can still do it. Other classics were Gloria, Tupelo Honey, Moondance, Sometimes we cray, and Have I told you lately. And others I can’t think of right now. All of them reworked and sounding fresh, and unpredictably performed by Van himself, when he gets stuck on a line or a word and uses his voice as an instrument, repeating whatever it is again and again. He’s also very unsentimental with his own songs – a lot of them end very suddenly, with no gradual run down at all.

I’ve got no pictures, because they would have been awful from my phone, because the staff were telling peopple off for taking them, and because I know Van hates that sort of thing. I fully expect to have sore neck in the morning from sitting at an angle for two and a half hours. But I don’t care. I still thank Van Morrison is great.

(And his daughter was pretty good too as a support act – she can sing!)

PS: Double Usefulness also enjoyed the gig, and you can read his review here. It’s probably better than mine ; )

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