Van Morrison returned to Nottingham after a nine year absence to play a sell out concert at the Royal Concert Hall on Monday. The Celtic soul brother and his excellent six piece band didn’t disappoint the audience with a great ninety minute show. The band are Mez Clough on drums,Dave Keary on guitars and pedal steel guitar, Paul Moore on bass, Paul Moran on keyboards and trumpet and Dana Masters and Sumudu on backing vocals. I think this was Sumudu’s first concert with Van and she must have been nervous but herself and Dana were great.
Van began with two songs of his fine new album Keep Me Singing which were Too Late & Every Time I See A River. Van then showed what an accomplished sax player he is with the wonderful Higher Than The World.
I didn’t particularly enjoy the Las Vegas style version of Have I Told You Lately but Dana was great with her vocal contribution. One of Van’s greatest love songs is Someone Like You and himself and the girls were very impressive on this song. Open The Door ( To Your Heart) was next and Dave Keary & Paul Moran excelled themselves on that one. Carrying A Torch was followed by Moondance/ My Funny Valentine and then a splendid medley of Baby Please Don't Go / Don't Start Cryin' Now / Gimme Some Lovin / Here Comes The Night. Dave Keary was again very good on the guitar.
Whenever God Shines His Light isn't one of my personal favourites but then Wild Night was splendid with the backing singers being really effective. Beautiful Vision was a highlight for me with the whole band making a contribution and Dave Keary in particular playing some really nice pedal steel guitar which I had never witnessed him do before. Two Van classics Tore Down a la Rimbaud & Sometimes We Cry were next and I know some Van fans don’t like Precious Time but this Nottingham audience loved it. The great songs continued with I Can't Stop Loving You followed by Crazy Love, Full Force Gale & Enlightenment which I never tire of hearing. I don’t really like the version of Brown Eyed Girl that was served up and I wish that In The Garden had been stretched out a bit longer as Van often does with this song. He left the stage to return for a rousing Gloria before departing again still singing, to leave the band to bash away at their instruments for several minutes while Van made a sharp exit from the building.
We retired to a nearby pub for a well deserved drink and I reflected on the concert. It wasn't the greatest Van show I have ever been to by any means but even an average Van Morrison show is better than any other singer on the planet so I am really pleased that I made the effort to go all the way to the fine city of Nottingham on a cold November Monday. A big hand for the band and lets do it all again soon.
Thank you to Fiona for the photos.