Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Van Morrison Live

Liz and I went to see Van Morrison last Friday night. The theater is a non-standard music venue up on Van Ness street, and was mostly standing only, expcept for seats up in the balconey.

I'm always amazed these days that concert venues bother to put up signs: "no cameras". How are they supposed to control that? and why, really, do they even bother?

We were down near the front off to one side, and it was easy to be annoyed by the awful stage setup. Everyone was set a good 10' back from the closest audience, and the front of stage was cluttered with lecterns and most annoyingly for us the organist, and some huge box that sat behind him. Of the 10 persons in the band (1 lead guitarist, 3 backup singers, 1 fiddler, 1 organist, 1 drummer, 3 other bass/guitarists), I could really only see 4 head to toe, and the heads of 3 others. At least the organist was lively.

And hey, it was music, so I didn't really need to see anything, right. As to Van Morrison, I mostly saw his head. He sang beautifully, dressed in a sharp little suit, a loosened bow tie, and a great pork-pie hat. (If he was a character in a Noir book it would read, "He looked his part, a small time gangster, the suit, the hat, and with a small and mean-looking mouth.")

He seemed pretty chill the whole time, not really smiling, just singing, naming the song before he and the band performed it, but little else besides ( aside a quip about a banjo, "here's a song with a banjo. a banjo, why not?" he said). I always wish they would say more really.

I hardly recognized a song until the last few, Gloria, Brown Eyed Girl, and one other that escapes me. The crowd went wild then of course. But through the rest of it, you could see some folks soaking the whole thing up, singing to every song. It was a mostly 40s 50sh crowd I would say, but with a good sprinkling of everything else.

His song de resistance was a number he started with a saxophone, a bitter song about drink and women. It was the only one that his heart and voice seemed completely into, and I think the one that touched everyone there -- I heard others talking about it.

90 minutes no more, no less was what he played. The lights came up killing the chants for encores, and we filed out into the cold night.

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