Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Van's the Man!
THE artist variously known as Van the Man and the Belfast Cowboy played a blinder for a sold-out house at The Sage.
Backed by a superlative eight-piece band, Van Morrison trawled through his massive back catalogue in a highly focused performance, featuring several musical highlights.
Opening with his evergreen jukebox standard, Brown Eyed Girl, the king of Celtic soul delivered the goods throughout the evening.
Swapping between saxophone, harmonica and even keyboards for Haunts of Ancient Peace, Morrison kept his faultless band in check with a series of jerky hand signals, pointed fingers and bellowed stage instructions.
But while Morrison is not noted for his easy-going personality, there was little evidence of musical aggro.
Instead, he created spine-tingling magic with what, for me, was the concert highlight- namely, a brilliant All in the Game.
The old pop standard segued into a chant about "no plan B, no safety net," Morrison building up the phrase into a kind of religious mantra.
While he can be inconsistent, such moments prove why Morrison has retained a loyal following for more than 40 years.
A highly moving version of In the Garden was the other concert standout, Morrison's voice ranging from a blues shout to a whisper.
The gig ended in traditional style with the timeless classic Gloria -
"G-L-O-R-I-A" - the Belfast Cowboy leaving the stage to a deserved standing ovation.