Live review

Van Morrison at the Roundhouse

Van Morrison
(Roundhouse – 7 July 2019, second night of 2-night residency. Review and drawing by Geoff Winston)

Van Morrison pitched it just right on his second night at the Roundhouse. He took his audience out to the raw bones of blues and jazz and back again, and then with him into the mystic, lyrics resonating poetically, autobiographically, melodies flowing unimpeded.

Van Morrison (Drawing © Geoff Winston 2019)

With his virtuosic band, well-seasoned to the flux of his repertoire as he mines his formidable catalogue on tour, he cast a compelling spell with a disarming light touch that owed much to his jazz roots, where there’s many a choice to be made in the treatment of a tune – and Morrison, in tune with the the spirit of the venue, showed how the artist knows which choice to make, to make it work just right on the night.

Placing the focus on melody as well as his vocal range Morrison kicked off on saxophone, to set down a jazz note which would trickle through the full set, and with his voice in fine fettle, he sustained a bright clarity appended to a bedrock of soulful yearning.

The tone was set early on, paying homage to his musical heritage as ‘Muddy Waters’ and ‘Satchmo’ bubbled up in the lyric of Ain’t Gonna Moan No More.

Digging deep, Morrison switched to acoustic guitar for a lustrous rendering of Saint Dominic’s Preview, resonant with emotion, revealing layered riches, which will live long in the memory.

Midway through the set, joined  by Chris Farlowe, he revisited the blues with humour and gusto as they romped through a medley melding Stormy Monday with Lonesome Avenue, both singers wearing heart and soul on their sleeves! The near-nonsense of the obsessively repetitive Broken Record capped off a highly entertaining episode which led beautifully into the deftly paced, jazz-flavoured Moondance.

Van Morrison (Drawing © Geoff Winston 2019)

Morrison’s reflective moods were visited in Sometimes We Cry and Days Like This, peppered with solo spots for the band, including Dave Keary‘s raw, crafted guitar and Paul Moran‘s trumpet, flugelhorn and organ breaks, while the carefree, lilting rhythm of It Was Once My Life, positioned the singer ‘on the ship of fools’, echoed tellingly with current times. Dana Masters stepped up to duet on vocals and then he cast anchor to give her the chance to shine soulfully solo.

Lester Young’s Jumping With Symphony Sid, a knowing swerveball, with its tightly marshalled, swing style cleared the decks for Morrison’s excursion in to the zone, travelling on to the Ancient Highway with its final destination, transfixed In The Garden, with Morrison’s mesmerising, heart-rending chant of ‘No guru, no method, no teacher’ echoing around the Roundhouse as he slowly took his leave of the stage, leaving the band to an extemporised work-out to wind down a tremendous evening.

Van Morrison – vocals, alto saxophone, guitar
Dave Keary – guitar
Paul Moore – bass
Paul Moran – keyboards/trumpet
Mez Clough – drums
Dana Masters – vocals
with Chris Farlowe – guest vocalist

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