Van Morrison, Edinburgh 2016 – a passport back to the mystical you

Scotland’s baby-boomers flocked to Edinburgh’s Playhouse to see Van Morrison on Sunday night (Nov 14) to relive just a little of their burst couch and cheap wine pasts.
There was a tacit acceptance that Van has the charisma of a distracted bank clerk and he did not disappoint. Tottering around the stage between an array of instruments, he’s as wide as he’s high and, crammed under a homburg and behind dark glasses, he looked for all the world like Paddington Bear conducting a lab experiment.
But then he starts to sing – and in range, timing, and soul – he’s just the same Van who inspired his 70s; 80s and 90s fans to make so many heart-moving commitments  (followed by expensive ‘noughties’ divorces, or not, in which case you’re probably as in love now as you were then).
Supported by a fantastic band, he worked through a comprehensive playlist from the nearly 50-year-old ‘Into the Mystic’ to brand new numbers from his newly released album  ‘Keep Me Singing’.
Although the original is lovely, I wouldn’t have chosen the unstructured ‘Beautiful Vision’ for a tour staple, and delivering the most romantic song in the world – ‘Have I told you Lately’ – in uptempo jazz format is was devastatingly iconoclastic. However, his Ray Charles numbers were to die for. Both ‘I believe’ and ‘Lonely Avenue’ saw Van and the band give subliminally tight, soul-filled performances, while ‘ Carrying a Torch’ (Hymns to the Silence) and ‘Someone like you’ (Poetic Champions), were vintage, hopelessly wonderful  Van Morrison.
Typically, he denied the audience the opportunity to enjoyably sing along by giving re-structured renditions of ‘Moondance’; ‘Brown-eyed Girl’ and ‘Cleaning Windows’. His exit was succeeded by a slightly anti-climactic play-out by his talented band and truthfully there were no transcendental moments, but he is as good as he ever was – and that’s magical for many. You could feel 3000 people transported back to their 20-something selves…touching hands over a candle stuck in a wine bottle…..and dreaming of being together at 60. Whether or not they imagined they would be at the Edinburgh Playhouse by then, wishing Van was be a bit more engaging, the truth is you don’t go to a Van concert to connect with him – you are connecting with the wonderful memory of your more beautiful, mystic self.

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3 thoughts on “Van Morrison, Edinburgh 2016 – a passport back to the mystical you

  1. Great review and probably could have been the same of the Van concert I saw 30 years ago at the playhouse. Fab but awkward.
    Elvis Costello however around the same time was a blast. So much audience participation we were trying to be invisible in case we were asked to dance in the go go cage on stage.

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    1. Thanks very much for commenting Ali – loved your comment about Elvis. I really love Van’s music so I never feel let down – and you’re exactly right NOTHING had changed but that’s quite a compliment – his musicality still sexily superb

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  2. Great review – lots of light and shade and I sensed air of wistfulness too.
    I too would have found it very difficult to listen to him singing special tracks like Brown-Eyed Girl, basically all souped-up!
    Glad you had a good evening.

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