Friday, 4 November 2011

Van's Hawaiian Shows

Beautiful Waikiki - A Long Way From Belfast

Van Hawaii T-shirt from Wolfgang's Vault
How many times do you think Van has played Hawaii?  Never? Would you believe he's done four shows in America's playground?

Van's first visit was with Them in 1966 at the tail end of the tour that ended it all for them as a band.  Them played at the Waikiki Shell on the 8th and 9th of July, 1966.  The Waikiki Shell seats 2400 people with room for another 6000 on the sloping grass.  Them also played at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall on the next night July 10, 1966.  

Van apparently, couldn't live without all that sunshine and returned to do a show at the Waikiki Shell on February 23, 1974. 

Given this connection with Hawaii I was surprised that he wasn't honoured in the Honolulu Hard Rock Cafe.  I went there in September this year and tried to find some Van memorabilia somewhere on the walls.  I couldn't so naturally I emailed my disappointment to Hard Rock.  I got a nice reply that they've referred my request on.  So who knows, maybe something of Van will feature there among some of the lesser stars they've chosen to honour.     

The Waikiki Shell: the Hollywood Bowl of the Pacific
Clinton Heylin's Can You Feel the Silence has some more information about the Hawaii shows.  He writes, "According to Jim Armstrong, the first night 'the band played well, and the guy accused us of being drunk. The next night we got absolutely smashed and Van fell into the drums, and the guy said, "That's what I wanted. That was brilliant".' 

Any further information about the four concerts is difficult to dig up.  Even the normally reliable Guenter Becker's Song Database site contains no information about what songs were played. 

Can you imagine Van walking around Honolulu in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, long socks and sandals?  Or lying on the beach at Waikiki?  Or trying out surfing?  It doesn't fit his image even though on Keep it Simple he did trot out the ukulele on half of the tracks.  He's more the smooth urban trans-euro sophisticate who gives the impression that he likes sunlight about as much as a vampire does.  (Is a cameo in the Twilight series a possiblity?)    

(One final thing - there's some great Hawaiian music out there and it's highly collectible.  You may have been put off by the multitude of quickly produced albums which cater for a less-than-discerning tourist market who just want to recall their balmy maitai-fueled nights in Hawaii.  The physically huge singer known as Iz is a great place to start.)         

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