Saturday, 9 December 2017

Van Vs The King of Pop

Can you believe that Van Morrison has sold a career aggregate of around 40 million albums?  40 million.  What astounds me about this is that Michael Jackson's Thriller sold more than 65 million copies by some estimates. Those 9  songs attracted 65 million in sales while Van's Into the Mystic, Summertime in England, Madame George, Moondance and even Brown Eyed Girl could only attract sales of 40 million from Van's supply of 50 or so albums (that includes compilations and live albums).  50 or so of Van's beautiful albums, at least 10 of them masterworks, can't compete with 9 Jackson songs?  Is the world completely crazy?  How is this even possible?

Billy Jean is not my lover. You mean this lyric line basically trumps all of Van's lyric gems put together?  The whole of Van's oeuvre is less significant than MJ's trite lyrics on one album? Sure MJ is talented, but compared to Van?  I mean, c'mon!

In the US the album garnered award after award. It was awarded 33 multi-platinum sales awards. It won a record 8 Grammy awards in 1984. It produced 7 singles, all of which went Top 10 in the US. Globally, in country after country the album went to number 1 or at least Top 10.     

I'm beginning to understand why reality TV outsells Shakespeare. 

Think about this when there isn't enough to be angry about: Simon Cowell has a fortune easily worth 5 times Van's and he's basically made it from music. No wonder Van's grumpy.  Please take a minute and compare Simon Cowell's and Van's relative contribution to music.  Are you thinking or just plotting revenge?  

Is there justice in this world when Justin Bieber can amass a bigger fortune in one year than Van has accumulated in a lifetime?  Say it ain't so.  All those beautiful Van albums mean so little in this 21st century. It's sad. 

What have the Van fans got to say about this?  Can we start a revolution?  

(* Van's total global sales are hard to calculate.  On the one hand he's had two 5 million sellers in Moondance and Best of (Volume I), but generally his albums sell between 150, 000 to 300, 000 each. 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Koncert Komments - Part 1

Wayne M. Cohen   -   Ahhh…Van is simply the best. I had the pleasure of seeing him at the Masonic in San Francisco and he and his group just burned the place down. His ability to gather together a group of talented musicians is–IMO–unmatched. 

Kaid Banfield   -   I was on a high school debate team in North Carolina that went to Wake Forest University for a tournament.  I was probably about 16, and a folk music nerd.  Joan Baez was playing and I nabbed a single seat.  I’ve been to hundreds of concerts since, perhaps my all time favourite being Van Morrison in the late 1980s at Wolf Trap outside of DC.

Roger Cohn   -   There is no better concert experience in the world than seeing Van the Man when he’s on.

William   -   He is just the Top. Saw him at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam in November and at N.O. Jazzfest a year ago. He remains, IMHO, without peer, so eclectic, so powerful, so talented, such perfect pitch. My generation has lived by his songs. But it is a special pleasure now to see my kids delight in his oeuvre as well. What a special treat he has given us all over all these years.

John S   -   I saw a show at the Austin Music Hall and he was definitely ‘on’. The chatter about Van’s idiosyncrasies had lowered my expectations but I can say the show turned out to be the kind you dream of – each new song that came one after another arranged and performed with such skill that it grabbed you like one of your old faves. The only downer was the grumbling in the exiting queues – only two of Van’s standards were played. I guess most crowds who pony up big bucks to see their heroes want a ‘Best of’ show. They framed it as commercialism – just trying to push the new CD. What a shame they didn’t see it as I did – a master at work.

Jimmy C.   -   Can’t believe what I have just read. Really, listen to his albums…every song is sung exactly the same…same notes, same order, ever since Moondance. Plus you have to pay $235.00 for a good seat. Sorry, but I can’t go with the herd on this one.  (SCVF - I couldn't let this one go by without commenting that Van is known as one of the most innovative performers around when it comes to the different arrangements he does with his songs.)

Jane   -   With a tip of the hat to St. Paul concert promoter Ron Maddox, my favourite concert ever was Van Morrison at St. Paul Riverfest in 1986. The chemistry between artist and audience was amazing, and Van played for over three hours, leaving his playlist behind.

Kevin O’Hare   -   One of my top 25 concerts was Bob Dylan and Van Morrison on January 23, 1998, at the Fleet Center, Boston. Seeing Bob Dylan anytime during the past 20 years has been a bit of a gamble but the bard was truly inspired on this occasion, undoubtedly because he was sharing the double bill with his Irish friend, Van Morrison. Unfortunately they did not sing together (They had played Blue Suede Shoes together earlier that week in New York), but it was still a stellar evening, marked by Dylan gems like Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues AgainAbsolutely Sweet Marie and Simple Twist of Fate. Morrison too, was at his best, doing songs such as a slow-building show-stopper The Healing Game, and a house-shaking, horn-thundering Domino.

Bruce   -   I was at Van’s Shrine Theater show in LA on January 16, 2016 and it was excellent. I was also sitting front row lodge but stage left, great view. Van and band were in a great mood and played a fantastic set. Tom Jones coming on stage for 2 songs was a blast and a crowd pleaser. Some of the best highlights were In The Afternoon which was one of the best versions I’ve heard Van sing. From my view point I could see Van rocking back and forth as he got deeper into the song and felt the groove. The “Workshop” is always great with Van repeating the line “no plan B” over and over then shouting “THIS IS IT” and “no safety net”. Closing with Into the Mystic was a big bonus.

John Walker   -   I saw Them one night at the Tiger´s Head pub in Catford, south-east London. This was in 1965, I guess, because I recall the band having had two big hits with Baby, Please Don´t Go and Here Comes The Night. I would have been aged 17, coming on 18, busy learning the guitar and besotted by those wonderful beat groups that filled the charts. When the band came on, they had to leave their dressing room and plough through the audience to reach the stage. As Morrison walked by, I looked straight down onto the crown of his head – he was a tiny bloke – which was covered with long blonde hair down to his shoulders. 

I recall thinking: “So, all that guff old people spout about pop stars´ hair being dirty is just so much shit.” I loved the band, but my compatriots sat on their hands. Them couldn´t get arrested that night in Catford. They were a good band, with two smashing hits under their belts and a fabulous frontman in the dynamic and multi-talented Morrison who, in addition to his ferocious vocals, played guitar and saxophone. The problem was – Morrison. Even then he was finding a way to make people hate him. Poor Van didn´t have the social skills of a day-old rat. After each song, I found myself one of only three or four people clapping. I couldn´t have given a damn about Morrison´s prickly personality.I´d gone there for quality musicianship and got it in spades, so I was happy. But I was deeply unhappy that Them had got such a lukewarm reception.

Lisa Knight   -   Van Morrison was well worth the price of admission (2 seats $500), but our seats sucked. He played at the WaMu Theater, part of the Seahawks Qwest Events Center (Seattle;2006). It looked like a big warehouse, with exposed pipes and beams in the ceiling.  Although we had Row 5, the section was E.  So the whole night, although Van was about 30 feet from us, was spent looking at the backsides of the vocalists and a side view of Van. The sound was great, though, and Van was in top form. He brought along a ten-piece band which included three vocalists, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, fiddle, steel guitar, organ, drums, and he played sax and harmonica. He came out swaggering to the stage pumping on that harmonica. He’s so good. Very cool in a black suit and felt fedora. I really liked the music, though, and he really kept it upbeat most of the time. Lots of boogie-woogie, some country and classic Van. He ended with Moondance, Brown Eyed Girl and Gloria, which got everyone on their feet. 

Summerhouse   -   It set me off thinking about those concerts we have been to. My first was Van Morrison, impressed? Well don’t be, he was then front man for Them. Not huge at that time. They, Them, that is, had a ‘hit’ with Here Comes the Night but it was still very definitely pre-fame days for Van. This ‘gig’ was at The Golden Egg nightclub, I think that was the name, in Ilkeston, in Derbyshire and would have been around 1964. It would be true to say that Van’s heart was not really in it, he definitely was not digging it as we used to say in those days. I remember two things about the gig – the band rattled through their 40 minute set, in about 10 minutes and then departed without a cheery word, well without any words at all other than those in the songs of course, I don’t mean it was an evening of instrumentals, we hadn’t gone to see The Shadows. From what I hear, nothing has changed with Van, he can still be a little taciturn. The other thing I remember, and which also has presumably not changed, was that Van was not at all tall, short in fact, small all over in fact. 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Funny Things People Say - Part 20

Earnest Prole   -   I was just thinking you should blog about Van Morrison more often.

Euwee   -   There are three great tragedies in my life and when they happened to me each time I was listening to some Van song or album. I no longer listen Van, particularly in the car. 

Mike Sylwester   -   I love Van Morrison's music, but when I attended one of his concerts he barely acknowledged his audience. He was aloof to the point of rudeness. I felt very dissatisfied at the end of the concert.

Young Hegelian   -   What you get with Van is audience "smother-love" compared to what I saw at a concert with the French harpsichordist Pierre Hantai. He said that unless the lights were darkened to the point where he couldn't see the audience & he was given a light by the harpsichord to see his music, he wouldn't play the concert.

Comanche Voter   -   Van Morrison and his recording of Carrickfergus always got my motor going, as did his Raglan Road. Now I think Carrickfergus may be as traditional tune; and the lyrics to Raglan Road came from a poem written by an Irish "working man's poet" in the late 1930s. But both are powerful performances and powerful songs.

Dave DiMartino   -   In many ways like Van Morrison, Cher is a mammal, has two legs and two arms and has been making music since the ‘60s, Cher is simply too great to ever cast aspersions on, which I wouldn’t do even if I had any!

D   -   I have no comment on Van Morrison. Nor a comparison of Street Legal to Into the Music.

Limited blogger   -   Thanks for the gentle push to listen to some Van Morrison.

Mid-Life Lawyer   -   If you are under 55, you might have actually considered Into The Mystic as a funeral song, if you ever contemplated such things. (I went through a period where I picked my three funeral songs every once and awhile for fun) Into the Mystic is a good song for your funeral when you aren't real worried about dying yet. When it gets a little more real, I don't think it works so well anymore.

IgnatzEsq   -   I agree with the need for more Van Morrison blogging. A good potential post, Van's inability to pronounce the word 'Electric' in The Last Waltz.  I've not heard or thought of Into the Mystic for funerals, but have seen it used in weddings. It's used as the first dance in the sappy wedding scene of the mediocre comedy American Wedding. The song is the best part of the movie actually.

Quaestor   -   The guitar hook is quite profound. But I remember regretting spending my money on this, because I didn't like the sound of Van Morrison's voice. I never learnt to like it later. I don't doubt that he's an excellent singer. There's just a tone to it that I find unappealing. That's natural. The Northern Irish have the most impenetrable accent in the whole of the British Isles. It's atrocious. Ulstermen don't understand anybody, including themselves. They all talk that way. 

When the Derry wife asks the Derry husband what he wants for breakfast, she's likely to spend the next hour wondering how to pan fry an anvil. Their mumbled gibberish is probably why the DeLorean was such an abortion, kinda like the Tower of Babel. Ulstermen do okay with ships, however. The din of a working shipyard is so overwhelming that talking is pointless, which works the Ulsterman's advantage. An Ulsterman is what you get if a Dubliner and a Glaswegian are passed through a Cuisinart. The Dublin speech is lilting and rhythmic, but Glaswegian is hardly melodious. Some Scots dialects are pleasant enough, but Glaswegian... Put it this way: Scots is to Glaswegian as a Cremona violin is to a musical saw.

chickelit   -   My favourite Van Morrison song is a Dylan cover. Beck sampled it in the '90's. Had the the makers of Breaking Bad just used this song in the finale, 50 years would have threaded so nicely.

Eddie Willers   -   Moondance is a Desert Island Disc!

Woot Kleever   -   Everytime I hear a new song on the radio I'm thinking how would Van Morrison have done this? This is just so unfair to Bey, Katy, Taylor, Justin, Rihanna, etc.  

Monday, 20 November 2017

"Hi, Jon"

Van Morrison: A Brush with Greatness

Here's a funny story from the Guardian in 2017 called The day Van Morrison remembered me – and impressed my girlfriend. 

A chance encounter in a restaurant in Bath with Van the Man leads to a bizarre series of events for one fan, recalls Jon Bewley.

In 1994 I was travelling around the UK visiting various arts festivals with an eye to setting up a new arts organisation, the future Locus+. At the Bath Festival, I was travelling alone. Not knowing the city, I chanced upon a small, out-of-the-way restaurant and during the meal I noticed to my great surprise that Van Morrison was eating there, too, with a companion.

I was, and still am, an enormous fan of Van Morrison and had a momentary crisis of what I should do about this opportunity to meet him. I decided to approach his table.

“Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you during your meal,” I said.

They both looked up at me.

“But… Van Morrison?”

He nodded.

“I just wanted to say how much your music has been an important part of my life, say thank you, and wondered if I could shake your hand.”

“What’s your name?”, Van Morrison asked.

“Jon,” I replied.

He offered his hand and I shook it.

“Thank you, Jon,” he said.

I then left them to it.

The next day I was walking down one of the many pedestrian precincts in Bath in the sunshine when I noticed Van Morrison coming towards me talking on his mobile phone. As he approached our eyes met and as he passed he raised his hand and mouthed, “Hi Jon,” to me as he continued on his way. I was rooted to the spot. I couldn’t believe it – twice in two days.

The following day I had finished in Bath, so travelled back to Newcastle. It was my girlfriend’s birthday and I had a plan to surprise her with a weekend break in Dublin. We flew to the city and after checking into our hotel, decided to walk up O’Connell Street to St Stephen’s Green for early evening cocktails in the famous Shelbourne Hotel.

The bar was horseshoe-shaped and we had seats at the end of one side. After a few minutes my girlfriend turned to me and said: “Oh my God! You are not going to believe who has just walked in – Van Morrison!”

I almost choked on my margarita.

I turned around and Van Morrison had taken a seat at the bar opposite us. Our eyes met and after what seemed to be an eternity, he slowly raised his hand and mouthed: “Hi Jon.”

I was speechless with shock. Looking me in the eye, my companion said: “I didn’t know you knew Van Morrison.”

Monday, 13 November 2017

2017 Van Buyer's Guide

I thought late last year was a great time to buy Van product.  But he's gone even better this year with two new releases in under three months.  Doesn't Van know the meaning of the word 'retirement'? I urge all fans, both casual and the obsessed, to get out there and support the Van product release with your cards or wallet.  There is so much great music on offer.  

What about some special purchases for Christmas? You owe it to the next generation to pass on the Van legacy. Buy those CDs or vinyl versions for the kids or grandkids. Forget about their initial contemptuous looks. They'll come around in time.  What about that ungrateful son-in-law?  Get him hooked on Van and his negatives won't irritate you so much! Got any ex-wives?  Buy them the gift of Van and your divorce settlements won't crush you as much.  

Anytime is a good time to buy Van merchandise.  Here are some recent albums: 

1. Versatile (2017)  -  On December 1st, Van releases Versatile which similarly to Roll With the Punches sees Van releasing some originals among an album of covers.  Basically, the formula is one third Van and two thirds covers.  Roll With the Punches was bluesy whereas Versatile is more Jazz oriented.  Like Roll, Van also re-releases some songs.  It's a winning formula and it is sure to please fans.  Check out Van's official site for information.  

2. Roll With the Punches (2017)  -  it was only two months ago that Van released this deceptive little gem.  It's one of those records that grows on you with each listening.  It's Van's homage to blues and possibly Bob's Theme Time Radio Show

3. Keep Me Singing (2016) -  Keep Me Singing is a wonderful album, and, in my humble opinion, is easily in his Top 10.  Keep Me Singing is Van's 36th studio album and consists of 13 tracks - 12 original songs written and performed by Morrison, as well as a cover of the blues standard Share Your Love With Me - written by Alfred Baggs and Don Robey and previously recorded by artists such as Aretha Franklin and Kenny Rogers.

4. It's Too Late To Stop Now - Vol. II, III, IV + DVD (Released 10/6/16)

It's Too Late To Stop Now (Volumes II, III, IV & DVD) is a three CD and one DVD collection of previously unreleased live concert recordings from Van Morrison's mythic 1973 tour with the Caledonia Soul Orchestra.  Total run time is 313 minutes.

CD1: Recorded live at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, May 23, 1973
CD2: Recorded live at the Santa Monica Civic, California, June 29, 1973
CD3: Recorded live at The Rainbow, London, July 23 & 24, 1973
DVD: Recorded live at The Rainbow, London, July 24, 1973

5. The Essential Van Morrison (Released August 28, 2015)

A great 37 song overview of the man’s career.  I’m assuming some of your other best of Van CDs are worn out.  Very similar to the various Still on Top compilation albums but still great.

6. Moondance (2 CD version) (October 22, 2013)

The two CD version of the expanded Moondance album is a good choice. It contains a remastered version of Moondance and another CD of highlights from the multi-disc expanded version.

Other Product

Go to the official Van site and check out the merchandise.  There are vinyl versions of the albums, souvenir T -Shirts, hoodies, posters, caps, prosthetic limbs, etc. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Van's Best - Another Poll

Steve Hoffmann Music Forums is a fantastic site with a lot of Van material and comment.  Someone started a thread where people could vote on 21 Van albums.  I note that Common One, The Healing Game and Keep it Simple aren’t on there. Keep Me Singing wasn't around when the poll was constructed.  

The best according to this poll were as follows: 

  1.  Moondance
  2.  Astral Weeks
  3.  St Dominic's Preview
  4.  Tupelo Honey        
  5.  Veedon Fleece
  6.  His Band and Street Choir
  7.  It's Too Late to Stop Now
  8.  Into the Music
  9.  Hymns to the Silence
10.  No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
11.  Them
12.  Poetic Champions Compose
13.  Hard Nose the Highway     
14.  Avalon Sunset
15.  Wavelength
16.  Enlightenment
17.  Blowing Your Mind
18.  A Night in San Francisco
19.  Days Like This
20.  Irish Heartbeat
21.  Too Long in Exile

My own Top 21 might look like this just at the minute:

  1.  Astral Weeks
  2.  Moondance
  3.  Veedon Fleece
  4.  Keep Me Singing       
  5.  It's Too Late to Stop Now
  6.  St Dominic's Preview
  7.  No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
  8.  The Healing Game
  9.  Them 
10.  Into the Music
11.  Enlightenment
12.  Hard Nose the Highway
13.  A Night in San Francisco  
14.  Tupelo Honey
15.  Wavelength
16.  Common One
17.  His Band and Street Choir
18.  Keep it Simple
19.  Days Like This
20.  Hymns to the Silence
21.  Best of Volume 3

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Extreme Van Fan Anecdotes

Donna Lethal   -   Astral Weeks and T.B. Sheets both held - and hold - special places for me (you breathe in, you breathe out) not only from my Cambridge days when they still talked about Van - a decade and a half after he had left the neighbourhood - but as the soundtracks to great loss and the aftermath. I still can't listen to Into the Mystic because of the anguish that it accompanied. In Cambridge, I would wander around Harvard Square hungover early in the morning, out to buy cigarettes, unable to get the image of the 90-something drunk man playing knucklebones or the jailbird with "1%" hand tattoos who both shared our table the night before, not knowing how or why I had ended up there, until finally it was time for the movie theatre to open where I spent days away from my stifling apartment. Most nights I slept in my giant claw-foot tub. Eventually, I fled to New York.

Rob Muszynski   -   Living in the Bay area, I have had the chance to not only see him many times but I've had several conversations with him.  I made a case of Vin Morrison for some guests that I took to one of his concerts. Van kept one bottle and signed another for me. It's in a little trophy case. 

Rod Stewart   -   In 2006 I took my daughters to see Van play in LA. The promoter tells me Van would love to meet me backstage. So off I go. Van walks towards me and I stand up to give him a friendly hug and he just barges past me. Unbelievable. Why can't he just be nice to people?

Maya Webb   -   We all used to go to a dive bar after work.  This bar had a juke box and on that juke box was the album by Van Morrison called T.B. Sheets.  I would watch Mike across the room as he would smoke, drink, flirt with girls, play pool and at the end of the night he would put money into the juke box and play the title song from the album. It is 9 minutes and 34 seconds and I wished it would go on forever.

Unknown   -   I've always heard that Morrison still has stage fright after all these years and he's only effusive when well lubricated, which can put a show on one side or the other of falling apart or being classic.  I've seen him three times. Once in LA on his ill-considered tour with Linda Gail Lewis. I don't know how he could have thought that album was a good idea.  And twice in Atlanta both of which times were great, though he did not interact either time. As far as concert quirks: A) For some reason he's rarely able to pull off Moondance live and B) he tends to use the lyric "made of rattleskin hide" instead of "made of rattlesnake hide" when he's doing Who Do You Love?  And speaking of concerts, his shows are widely torrented and bootlegged, and many of them sound better than commercial live recordings by other artists. 

Hey Vinyl Man   -   As I understand it, it's not because he "doesn't address his audience" that people consider Van Morrison contemptuous. It's because he's been known to be outright rude to them on occasion - pretty much the definition of contemptuous. There's surviving video of a concert in 1974, I think in San Francisco, where some poor misguided soul called out for Brown Eyed Girl and he took more than five seconds to tell the guy off. (His response was something like, "If you keep your mouth shut, you might get what you want, otherwise you're just boring me to death and probably everybody else!")

vanderleun   -   The origin of T. B. Sheets is, figuratively and literally, in nightmare.  His mother, Violet Morrison, said that the song originally had emerged from a nightmare her son had and that he had felt it so strongly that he couldn't tell it to her but sang it instead with verses lasting for an hour.
An hour? The song on the album runs nearly 10 minutes, twice the length of any of the others, and an eternity for a pop album of the mid-60s. But an hour? Just to stay in that mental space for 10 minutes is enough for most people. (The song did not chart.) But an hour is inconceivable.  Still, I'd like to hear it. It's a song that first insinuates itself deep into your lungs and then crawls down your bones:

So open up the window and let me breathe,
I said, open up the window and let me breathe
I'm looking down to the street below
Lord, I cried for you, Oh, Lord.

The cool room, Lord, is a fool's room,
The cool room, Lord, is a fool's room,
And I can almost smell your T.B. sheets
And I can almost smell your T.B. sheets, on your sick bed.

I gotta go, l gotta,
And you said, please stay.
I want, I want a drink of water,
I want a drink of water,
I went to the kitchen to get me a drink of water,

I gotta go baby.
I send, I send, I send somebody around here later,
You know we got John comin' around

Later with a bottle of wine for you, babe."

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Unionist or Republican?

Q. How do you get 50 Orangemen in a phone booth? 

A. Tell them they can't march in there.

Anyway, Quora was founded in 2009 and is a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited and organised by its community of users. Here’s a Van question that someone submitted:

Is Van Morrison sympathetic to the Unionists or Republicans in Northern Ireland?

Toby Smith   -   Van Morrison was born to a Protestant family in a working class district of East Belfast, an overwhelmingly Unionist area. He also recently became Sir George Ivan Morrison when he was knighted by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace on 4 February. His reaction to the occasion was overwhelmingly positive, saying it was "amazing" and "exhilarating", suggesting he does not have any antipathy towards the idea of Northern Ireland's status within the United Kingdom. He was nominated by Sammy Douglas, a staunchly Unionist local politician.

The two facts above place him fairly and squarely in the Unionist camp.

However, in Johnny Rogan's biography of the man, we can read that, as a child, he had both Protestant and Catholic friends and wished that they could get on better than they did. We also know that he regularly sells out live venues in the Republic of Ireland, and has recorded versions of many Irish folk songs. So although he is Unionist by birth and upbringing, he is not a staunchly political person and would seem to be proud of all aspects of his Irish heritage.

Eamon O'Kelly   -    I don't think Van Morrison is particularly invested in the politics of either side in Northern Ireland. To the best of my knowledge, he has never expressed a public opinion on the subject. At most, he may be a very lukewarm unionist. I need to note a flaw in the phrasing of the question, insofar as it juxtaposes the terms unionist and republican. The counterpart to “unionist” is “nationalist”. In the Northern Ireland context, republicans are an extremist minority among nationalists who favour the use of violence and terrorism in support of the political goal of a united Ireland.

As other answers have noted, Van Morrison grew up in a Protestant household in East Belfast and thus likely was “unionist” by birthright. He has, however, lived in the Republic of Ireland and in the United States for protracted periods and therefore is unlikely to have strong associations among the Northern Ireland political class, unionist or nationalist. I should note that the terms unionist and nationalist themselves are becoming increasingly anachronistic. Opinion polls suggest that a significant percentage of nationalist voters (even Sinn Féin voters) favour remaining in the United Kingdom.

Philip Deane   -   This is not based on anything but my own thoughts...... So feel free to take it with a pinch a salt. Van grew up in East Belfast which was a predominately Protestant community, so you could say in his early life he could have had loyalist leanings. But as with most people from Northern Ireland, when you step outside and look back in, you realise it is just a petty squabble. So any leanings one way or another would have quickly been displaced. Being a musician, he is not caring about the religion of the person he is playing with, he is caring about harmony, timing and sound. So I would be shocked if he had any leanings at all. 

EXTRA NOTE: It's good that the conflict in Northern Ireland seems to have declined in the last couple of decades.  It seems both sides seem to want to move on and try to forget the past, which is really positive. Not everyone will agree with that, of course.