Friday, 28 September 2012

Does Van Owe Fans an Encore?

Van is criticised for everything under the sun. Some days it seems he can do no right.  If that's the case how did he ever achieve his "legend" status?  For hundreds of thousands of the core of loyal fans Van always pleases or is at least interesting.  Here's a post by Molly Glentzer found on the chron.com site which angrily reviews a show in Texas in May, 2010.  It seems some people get violently angry if Van doesn't play the "hits". It's as if they feel that since they've paid their admission fee they have a right to have Van perform the songs they expect. Following Molly's initial post are some replies reflecting a wide diversity of opinion.  

Does a legend owe his fans an encore? Or even a hello?

Van the Mumblin’ Man Morrison apparently doesn’t think so. Nor was he compelled to let his audience wallow in nostalgia Saturday night at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands. (The crowd might have been mistaken for the world’s largest 40th high school reunion.)
With a tight six-man band behind him often featured in solos, Morrison conceded just a few chestnuts in a concert that was heavy on newish blues and jazz compositions. It all sounded very Van Morrison-y (a good thing), but the material became repetitious, with few tunes you could lock onto.

Or lyrics, for that matter. Morrison’s singing is pretty much consonant-free these days. If you didn’t know his songs already, you weren’t going to learn the words here.  But age has put some gravel in his voice, which if anything enhances it. And when he scats, well, you don’t mind so much that you paid $50 to sit on the hill, or that you couldn’t buy a beer ($11!) after 7:50 p.m., or that he didn’t take off his Ray Bans.

Among the nods to memory lane: Brown Eyed Girl got the audience giddy early, then not too long afterward came a jazzy arrangement of Moondance. Later came Ballerina, wafting between moodiness and hard-driving. Then there was the long, bluesy-jazzy The Healing Has Begun — which turned out to the be finale. A great song, but ironically it left some in the audience feeling more wounded than healed, since Morrison decided he’d had a night and left the band to finish things off.

The Philosopher’s Stone had great energy, and the cover of Rodney Crowell’s ‘Till I Gain Control Again was soulful, almost plaintive. “This is a country song by Rodney Crowell I recorded a couple of years ago,” he said beforehand.

He may have said “thank you” after one or two songs — and he mumbled something at one point that sounded like “are we having a good time.” Otherwise, he let his music do the talking — with just a few minutes on the piano to start, then strutting his impressive stuff on sax, harmonica and guitar. The harmonica, especially, said plenty.

Oh, yeah. He said, “Give a hand to the band” as he left the stage. But he didn’t introduce them, so we’ll do that here: Jay Berliner, electric guitar; David Hayes, double bass; Bobby Ruggiero, drums; Tony Fitzgibbon (the youngster of the bunch), violin and viola; Richie Buckley, flute and sax; and Paul Moran, grand piano. These guys were terrific.

You have to respect Morrison’s desire to keep his art moving forward. But would a little more gratitude hurt?


Sample Replies
Paul   -   I wasn’t there, but one of the DJs on KPFT this morning had nothing but good things to say about the show. I have heard, though, that you take your chances buying a ticket to see Van, so I’m not surprised at your less enthusiastic review either.
Cindy   -   The WORST concert we’ve ever been to. Spent over $300 bucks for tickets and could not understand 1 word the guy said and what a PRICK!  Would love to get my money back!

Rob Bryan   -   Even if Van was not thrilled to be there, I was thrilled that he played for us. It was billed as an “Evening with Van Morrison”, not the “Astral Weeks Live Tour” from last fall, but I was hoping for Astral Weeks. Even so, the music was great, the band exceptional.  The setlist was odd to say the least, many obscure songs. There were three songs from the 2002 album Down the Road, and two from 2008 Keep it Simple. He did keep it simple, no fuss, no “Hey Houston!” to gain automatic applause.

JayBee   -   My wife and I were at the concert Saturday night; it was our second time in two years to see Van. If he comes back to Houston again, we’ll be there.

We believe Morrison shows more respect for his audience than any other act we’ve seen. We’ve been going to concerts together for over forty years, and have seen more than three dozen members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We’ve seen the Beatles, the Stones (when they were still good), the Who, the Kinks, and countless others.

Maybe he doesn’t interact with the audience, but the 95 minutes he played Saturday night were the equivalent of a two hour concert if you factor out the mindless patter (It’s great to be wherever we are tonight), the pitches for favourite causes (vegetarianism for Chrissy Hynde or the end to land mines for Paul McCartney), and the obligatory ten minutes of begging for the well-planned faux encore.

We only wish that more performers were like Van Morrison. In reality, he appreciates us as much as we appreciate him.

Wavering Hightsbeen angry ever since. I shoulda showed up at this one, but forgot. BTW, it was a freebie back then.

Govchance   -   I attended with my 16 year old son and we both greatly enjoyed the concert, as did everyone around us. But we came strictly for the music. Did not miss people getting up in front of us to make beer and bathroom runs, at all. That being said, I concede that if you are just a casual Morrison fan, you probably did not care for the show. If you are a hard core fan, the show was a gem. I will take hearing Little Village over Brown Eyed Girl any day. He considers the latter a throw-a-way song. Van is a soulman at heart. He plays his music, his way. Never has played to the audience much, and quit playing for money long ago. Like he has so often said, “Its about the music, everything else is BS.”

Mr Blonde   -   Most all of these acts who were big some years ago are just disappointing in their later years. If they don’t sound broken down by age, drugs, alcohol, the road, etc., then they are too jaded by their success to care to put in real work. Many of them who are healthy put out a slick Vegas-lounge, cover-band, non spontaneous sound. Let the past be the past. It can’t be repeated no matter how hard you try. Besides that, the acoustics at Mitchell Pavilion are just bad – there are very few seats that are going to receive any sort of optimal sound.

Nigel Brooks    -   Before you are so quick to criticise Van the Man for his failure to communicate with the audience- do a little research and you’ll discover that he is intensely introverted. Check some of the interviews he has given recently on youtube – and you’ll gain much more insight into why. The Concert was great and I for one thank Van for saving me from the outrageous $12 beers and having to put up with folks who apparently only go to concerts to be seen.

Queen E    -   Attended the “Evening with Van Morrison”. It was indeed a marvellous night for a Moondance Pros: weather was perfect, sound was great Cons: suspending the sale of alcohol 10 min before concert start time, Morrison never addressed the crowd, didn’t play more classic favourites. Come on…how could he not do Tupelo Honey, Mystic, Gloria or Have I Told you Lately??? And to top it all off, no freaking encore!!!! It was a let down. Great music, from a great artist but he really let us down.

BluDog   -   Love how the Van Morrison tour shirts had the year 2009 on them along with last year’s schedule. And people were still buying them!

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