Van Morrison in concert 1973 – 2007

Van Morrison in concert 1973 – 2007
I’m going to see Van Morrison at The Sage Gateshead on Saturday, so I thought I would spend a little time reflecting on my previous concert experiences of the great man.
I first saw Van Morrison at Newcastle City Hall in 1973. He was performing with the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, and it was without doubt one of the greatest gigs I have seen. The passion and soul that Van showed that night was astounding. I’ve seen him several times since, but nothing has matched how he was that night. I’ve written separately on that great concert. I next saw Van at one or two festivals, including Knebworth, but didn’t catch up with him again at the City Hall until 1979. By then Morrison was moving in a more pop oriented direction, and although I still enjoyed the gig, the power and passion of that early 70s show was lacking.
I was back at the City Hall for a Van gig in 1983, and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed. It was as if he was going through the motions, and didn’t really want to be there. I talked to other fans who saw him around the same time, and they felt the same. He was back in Newcastle at the Arena as special guest for Bob Dylan in the 1990s once, maybe twice, I don’t remember. I’d lost faith in him by then, and shamefully admit I stayed in the bar during his set. I thought I’d seen the last of the Van I’d seen at that gig in 1973. However, in recent years I’ve been playing Moondance, Astral Weeks and the live album now and then, and have realised just how great his music is. So it was in that frame of mind that I went to see Van again at Middlesbrough Town Hall in 2005. I saw glimpses of the old Van again at that gig. The set was short, and Van didn’t acknowledge the audience at all, but he sang well, and it looked like he cared again. The set included some of his well known songs such as Moondance and Brown Eyed Girl, and a bunch of stuff that I didn’t recognise, and I am pleased to say that I enjoyed it. I was sold out again. So it was in that frame of mind that I took Laura to see Van at the Sage in 2007. We had cheap seats looking down on the stage from above and once again, he delivered. The set included more classics than in 2005. I think we got Here Comes the Night and Gloria, certainly one of them if not both. Even Laura enjoyed it, and she has become quite hard to please. Those last couple of gigs have convinced me to catch Van each time he comes to the North East. So I’ll be at The Sage on Saturday to see Van again, and I’m really looking forward to it. I know what to expect, and it should be good. I’ll report back on Sunday and write a review of the gig. I’ll dream a little of that gig in 1973, and be thankful I have the chance to hear some of those songs again, performed by the master who wrote them, and who spellbound me in the City Hall all those years ago.

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