- 11 Sep 20
There are eight artists and videos lined up for Sunday night's finale to the Hot Press-curated Rave On Van Morrison celebration of the music of the great artist from East Belfast – with Liam Ó Maonlaí, Keywest, Paul Muldoon and Hot Press editor Niall Stokes among those performing.
Sinead O’Connor will be the final act, on the finale night of Rave On, Van Morrison – the Hot Press curated tribute to Van the Man, to mark the occasion of his 75th birthday (which occurred on 31 August, 2020). Rave On, Van Morrison is broadcast via the Hot Press channel on YouTube, with 75+ Irish artists performing Van Morrison songs on video.
Sinead – who is also the cover star on the next issue of Hot Press – delivers a stunning interpretation of Van’s ‘Who Was That Masked Man’, a track from Veedon Fleece, released in October 1974.
The final night line-up was announced today and also features Liam Ó Maonlaí of Hot House Flowers, who performs a brilliant version of the 'The Master’s Eyes’, in what promises to be a beautiful opening to the evening’s proceedings at 7pm. The performances proceed from there on every quarter hour...
Also making a rare musical appearance in public is Hot Press editor Niall Stokes, who enlists guitarist and producer Gavin Glass – in his very fine Orphan Recordings studios in Curracloe, Co. Wexford – to help deliver a live performance of ‘Have I Told You Lately’.
“I’ve spoken about Van Morrison’s enormous influence on more than a few occasions recently,” Niall Stokes says. “He is one of the greatest songwriters of the modern era anywhere in the world – and on the island of Ireland, he has been a hugely important and influential figure. He has written so many great and enduring songs over the course of a phenomenally creative 60 years as a professional musician. And so I am really thrilled that the celebration of his work as an artist, which we embarked on here in Hot Press before lockdown, has developed into such a phenomenon, and borne such magnificent fruit.
“Right from the outset, the response from Irish musicians and performers was amazingly positive and generous. As a result, it has been a real joy for us, here in Hot Press, working with the artists – and then seeing the videos, genuinely brilliant in so many cases, as they landed. To have had the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, deliver such a stunning reading of ‘Rave On, John Donne’ – with wonderful music created specially for the occasion by Bill Whelan – as part of the project, has been an added, extraordinary privilege.
“Anyhow, I felt – with this phase of activities coming to a conclusion – that it’d be appropriate for me to enter fully into the spirit of things by paying musical tribute to Van. Earlier in the cycle, we broadcast a fantastic version of ‘Have I Told You Lately’ by Thanks Brother, and I urge you to watch that to see how it should really be done! But this is the Van song that I sing most often, and there is a personal reason.
“I am fortunate to have had two wonderful children – Duan and Rowan – with my partner, life-long friend and fellow Hot Press founder, Máirín Sheehy. As the first single from Van's very beautiful Avalon Sunset album, ‘Have I Told You Lately’ was released in June 1989. Rowan was born in July. It was an album we played a lot throughout that year. I fell in love with ‘Coney Island’, ‘I’m Tired Joey Boy’, ‘Orangefield’ and ’These Are The Days’ – all recorded brilliantly, as it happens, as part of our Rave On, Van Morrison celebration.
"But the one that I couldn’t escape, that started to sing me – or that’s certainly how it feels sometimes with songs – as Rowan made his way through those early days, with Van as a soundtrack, was ‘Have I Told You Lately’. A little bit later I picked up a guitar and got a few shapes sorted out. I am, in boxing parlance, a bit ring-rusty, but I enlisted the help of Gavin Glass, who is one of Ireland's finest musicians and producers and of James Bell of Wexford Live to do a performance video. I, of course, take full responsibility for any bum notes that might have been struck – and hope that Van succeeds in staying mellow while watching!"
Overall – with Keywest, George Hutton, Jordan O’Keefe and the newcomer Amberlight lining up alongside Sinead O'Connor, Liam Ó Maonlaí and the renowned poet Paul Muldoon reading ‘Coney Island’ – it promises to be a marvellously rich and diverse evening of music that, like so much that has gone before it, will hopefully have wide appeal to fans of Van Morrison – and to fans and friends of Irish music, and Irish talent.
“It is not that we are putting a big THE END sign up, on Sunday evening,” Niall Stokes adds. “There’s a few very interesting related ideas we’re working on, and if there’s any more magical versions of Van’s songs to be memorialised, then we’ll be more than happy to keep the door into Rave On, Van Morrison open. You know where we are! But for now, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped and supported us with every aspect of making Rave On, Van Morrison happen.
“In particular, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Van Morrison himself and to all of his team at Exile Productions; and to all of the artists, musicians, performers and video makers, who put their shoulders to the wheel with such good grace and kindness. To appreciate the quality of what was achieved by the artists and those working with them, all you need to do is spend a bit of time on the Hot Press YouTube channel. It will, we guarantee, be worth every minute.
“A big thanks also to the people at BMG Publishing and Warner Chappell Music who worked through all of the rights issues with great care; to all of the artists managers and record companies; to everyone on the team at Áras an Úachtaráin; to YouTube, who encouraged us hugely from the outset; to the team at One Productions; to everyone in the media who 'got it' and covered Rave On, Van Morrison so enthusiastically and supportively; and to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Ireland, who have helped so well to support and promote Rave On, Van Morrison and to get the word out to music fans across the world. On every count, it has been a pleasure.
“And finally, there is the entire Hot Press team, across all departments, who got stuck into making as big a success as possible of the whole endeavour, from the first moment that commissioning editor Jess Murray said ‘Van Morrison will be 75 on August 31st’ – thus setting the wheels in motion for what has been a crazy and heart-stopping but enormously satisfying adventure. Again, thank you all."
The full line-up of artists for Sunday night is:
- Liam Ó Maonlaí (7pm) The Master's Eyes
- Paul Muldoon (7.15pm) Coney Island
- Niall Stokes with Gavin Glass (7.30pm) Have I Told You Lately
- Amberlight (7.45pm) Celtic New Year
- Jordan O'Keefe (8pm) Real Real Gone
- George Hutton (8.15pm) Born To Sing
- Keywest (8:30pm) Come Running
- Sinead O'Connor (8.45pm) Who Was That Masked Man