Van Morrison Celtic Connections 2015 review by Pauline Keightley
There was an atmosphere of eager anticipation in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall as the audience waited for one of our musical legends.
Morrison grew up with his Dad’s record collection, the largest in Northern Ireland (acquired during his time in Detroit in the 50s) and he learned from the likes of – Ray Charles, Lead Belly and Solomon Burke, of whom Morrison said, “If it weren’t for guys like Ray and Solomon, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Those guys were the inspiration that got me going. If it wasn’t for that kind of music, I couldn’t do what I’m doing now.”
The records exposed Morrison to many genres – the blues of Muddy Waters; the gospel of Mahalia Jackson; the jazz of Charlie Parker; the folk of Woody Guthrie; and the country music of Hank Williams.
When you have listened to an artist over many years it is quite strange to hear and see them live but Morrison was in good voice for Celtic Connections and the mixing and band sounded just right. His set included sultry trumpet and sax solos. He orchestrated the band, conducting flamboyantly as they framed him.
The set included his soul-filled songs – Please Don’t Go, Parchman Farm, Don’t Stop, Moondance, Magic Time, Days Like This – and a poignant Sometimes We Cry. He also sang a lovely cover of Ray Charles’ I Can’t Stop Loving You. The band were tight and highly impressive, although, I would have liked one of the guitarists to turn more towards the audience. There was no chat between his songs, then again Morrison’s songs speak quite clearly for themselves.
The music is smoking, smooth and sultry and he uses his gravelly powerhouse of a voice to great effect. His saxophone playing is also impressive.
His musical narrative on tracks can be lengthy even rambling as the draw on his various influences – from Celtic tradition, jazz, blues, gospel and country music.
I was happy he finished his set with his – Into The Mystic and Ballerina – after which he slipped off to the side of the stage – the powerhouse of his musical voice lingered long after… .
Morrison has received six Grammys and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the songwriters Hall of Fame. He continues to record and tour, producing albums and live performances that sell well and are generally warmly received. In 2008 he performed Astral Weeks live for the first time since 1968.
Review and Photos by Pauline Leightley – http://pkimage.co.uk/
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