Monday, 17 December 2012

Van Morrison with the BBC Big Band – Edinburgh - 1995

Despite what the bootleg recording CD states, the gig
did in fact take place at  Edinburgh Festival Hall
6th August 1995

Edinburgh Festival Hall

This one, on the face of it, looked like a match made in heaven: Van Morrison performing alongside the BBC Big Band.  It appeared to offer the perfect opportunity for The Man to dust down a number of his songs which relied heavily on horns/brass arrangements, and give them a new lease of life.  The Way Young Lovers Do, Jackie Wilson Said, Real Real Gone all sprung to mind.  Perhaps even that fiendishly complex epic from the Common One album Summertime in England would get an airing.

But regretfully, no.  VM was at this time rekindling an interest in jazz standards; a penchant which would lead to him recording his How Long Has This Been Going On collection the following year.  Indeed, ten of the fourteen songs we heard this evening pitched up on that release.

Thus it was we were three songs in (although the third of these was a jaunty rendition of Ray Charles’ Early in the Morning) before we heard an original.  And even then it was the title track from his most recent album Days Like This; hardly a composition which required much in the way of Big Band beefing-up.

All Saints Day was impressive though, as was the rearranged I Will Be There, but thereafter Van dropped the tempo considerably, and many of the big band lads must have wondered what they had been invited along for, as low key tunes such as Vanlose Stairway, Got To Go Back and Haunts of Ancient Peace were trotted out.

Van did manage to rip things up a bit before the end with a memorable rendition of Mose Allison’s witty Mind is on Vacation and the obligatory Moondance, but no encores were forthcoming. 

And once again I found myself driving home from a VM gig slightly irked at the almost wilfully contrary choice of set.

Set list

Alright OK You Win
How Long Has This Been Going On
Early In The Morning
Days Like This
Who Can I Turn To
All Saints Day
That's Life
I Will Be There
Got To Go Back,
Vanlose Stairway/Trans-Euro Train
Blues In The Night
Haunts of Ancient Peace
Your Mind Is On Vacation

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