- 29 Oct 18
The Van & Bob Show. Pat Carty Catches A Double Header To Remember.
There are several records with Van Morrison’s name on them that I reckon are amongst the finest ever made. Take my personal favourite, Veedon Fleece. I got a right dose of the auld Celtic mist as I listened to it, walking the changing riverside towards the show, cranes swaying above me in the city I love, the country I was blessed enough to be able to move back to. You see? He makes even the most cinder block handed hack go all poetical. It’s a beautiful record, from soup to nuts. Here, hold on…“William Blake and the eternals, and the sisters of mercy, looking for the Veedon Fleece”…I’m off again. And, as I said, he’s got a handful of others that are nearly as good.
Live, it can be a very different story. Although I’ve heard tell of transcendent nights, I’ve only seen him a few times and they were, to put it mildly, disappointing outings, but at least he’s looking good in the usual hat/sunglasses/pinstripe suit rig out as he leads the band into the gentle swing of ‘Down The Road’ and then blows some sax for a nice run at ‘Days Like These’. His voice is in good nick too, and he gives it a bit of soft scat – the only acceptable kind – to close out the tune. ‘Have I Told You Lately’ is such a gorgeous song, but this jazzy arrangement doesn’t really do it any favours, although it’s lifted when backing vocalist Dana Masters takes a verse, and Van’s a dab hand at that horn. It’s when he starts blowing a mean harp in ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ that you begin to think, to hope, that we’ve got him in a good mood on a good night. The band slip into Slim Harpo’s ‘Don’t Start Cryin’ Now’ – as covered by Them, long ago – before ‘Here Comes The Night’, carried by some nice use of two tambourines and cracking tremolo guitar from Dave Keary.
‘Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid’, which stretches back to Lester Young in the forties and had lyrics added by King Pleasure in the fifties, is pleasant enough, and we don’t see half enough vibraphone in this day and age, but ‘Sometimes We Cry’, from 1997’s The Healing Game, is better. Dana Masters is a much better fit than the backing vocals on the original recording and the percussion work behind the Hammond and guitar solos is quietly perfect. The band chase the bass line of ‘Real Real Gone’ around the song, bringing it down near the end as Van evokes Sam Cooke, and the ‘Let It Be’-esque ‘Carrying A Torch’ is just lovely, the “keeper of the flame” he’s talking about in the song might just be himself.