Review: ‘Van Morrison’

Van Morrison's well-oiled show takes the shape of an old-fashioned R&B revue, joyously mixing styles, genres and even vocalists in a percolating, 2 1/2-hour set. The Celtic bard of soul sometimes relegates himself to the role of ringmaster, generously giving over time to British keyboard legend Georgie Fame, young vocal tyro Brian Kennedy and other members of his ace band for usually tasteful solos.

Van Morrison’s well-oiled show takes the shape of an old-fashioned R&B revue, joyously mixing styles, genres and even vocalists in a percolating, 2 1/2-hour set. The Celtic bard of soul sometimes relegates himself to the role of ringmaster, generously giving over time to British keyboard legend Georgie Fame, young vocal tyro Brian Kennedy and other members of his ace band for usually tasteful solos.

Kennedy especially impresses with his amazingly emotive voice, delivering sublime versions of “You Sweet Thing,””You Send Me” and even the first half of Morrison’s classic “Tupelo Honey,” where the headliner contented himself with plunking out a few lead guitar notes.

Ostensibly on tour to promote his new Polydor album “Days Like This,” Morrison dutifully provided the lyrically complex meditation “No Religion,” gentle “Melancholia” and breezily midtempo title tune.

However, as evidenced by his excellent live “A Night in San Francisco” album last year, Morrison now prefers either to dredge up relatively obscure catalog items (a deliciously punchy “Tore Down a la Rimbaud”) or to set up long, improv-tinged jams that build gradually into R&B nirvanas. An epic version of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was wrung for everything it had, gave each band member a chance to shine, and easily beat the version Brown is currently doing.

Van Morrison

Paramount, New York; 5,600 capacity; $65 top

Production

Presented by Ron Delsener. Reviewed June 30, 1995 .

Cast

Band: Brian Kennedy, Teena Lyle, Matthew Holland, Leo Green, Haji Ahkba, Nicky Scott, Geoff Dunn, Alan Darby, Georgie Fame.
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