Little sign of grumpiness as Morrison delights 1,200 fans


THEY SAID it would be a night of lyrics and poetry with “Emphasis on Words” but it was probably no surprise that, as always, Van Morrison let the music do the talking when he topped the bill at the Sligo Live festival last night.

He was early – in fact he strode on to the stage in the Knocknarea Arena at IT Sligo five minutes before schedule – much to the shock of those scurrying in the door up to 20 minutes later.

It must be hard being a performer when your dad is, literally, the Man, but Van’s daughter, Shana, a US-based singer-songwriter was not just the support act last night. She also provided backing vocals and father and daughter delighted the crowd with a double act on Sometimes We Cry from his 1997 album The Healing Game.

The evening started with a few numbers from the new album Born to Sing: No Plan B but it was the familiar lyrics from the spoken song Coney Island – “Out all day bird watching/And the craic was good”– which drew the first animated cheers of recognition from a crowd which spanned all generations .

Not only was Van early but he clearly enjoyed himself. While George Ivan Morrison isn’t famous for banter and over-the-top exuberance, there was very little evidence of his grumpiness or as the PR material put it “noted reserve” last night.

Although Van being Van there was just a little bit of impatience at the end towards one of his musicians who got a reproving command of “long notes” as the 90-minute set came to a close.

‘There were plenty of treats for the diehard fans – Moondance got the loudest cheers but there were also favourites like Crazy Love and Into the Mystic which had old fans in raptures. The real treat at the end was On Hyndford Street named for the Belfast street where he was born which, like Coney Island, is a spoken song. There had been rumours that Van would share with audiences some of the autobiographical and literary influences in his songs, but fans were happy enough he stuck with the music.

Before he left, he did introduce his daughter but there was no encores. For the 1,200-strong audience, however, there are plenty of good memories and a night when Van did really deserve the sustained applause and the standing ovation which continued long after he was gone.