Van Morrison has a special affinity with Bristol,”Won’t you meet me down by Bristol”,sang Van on his epic song Summertime In England.The Colston Hall has been refurbished with a splendid new foyer area and bars.
The opening song was MOONDANCE and Jay Berliner was back on guitar with Van’s band of
Paul Moran on keyboards piano and trumpet, Paul Moore on bass, Jeff Lardner drums, Chris White sax, flute Alistair White trombone and Dave Keary on guitar.
HIGHER THAN THE WORLD was next from Vans Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart album and Jay excelled himself with some mesmerising guitar playing. SONG OF HOME from his last studio album was next and Jay played banjo on this one
FAIR PLAY from the brilliant Veedon Fleece album followed and it was superb,”Take it where you get it”, sang Van repeatedly at the end.My favourite Van song of all time followed,IN THE GARDEN.The knowledgeable Bristol audience applauded spontaneously to the opening notes and Van said “Thank you”, politely.He was really in the zone on this song which was spiritual and sanctified.Jay and the young brass section all got warm applause during their solos.The piano playing was excellent as well. At the end Van brought it right down to a whisper until he was just breathing into the microphone.It was spine-tingling.Then he sang “Then you bring it up!”,and the band brought it back to a crescendo that Tchaikovsky would have been proud of. MAGIC TIME followed which was good with Van blowing some nice saxophone comparison.The masterclass of ALL IN THE GAME/YOU KNOW WHAT THEY’RE WRITING ABOUT followed .The full range of his vocal pyrotechnics were on display..”There is no plan B,no turning back,there is no plan B”,he kept repeating at the end.REAL REAL GONE was next and all the band took solos to show what they could do and Van sang a bit of You Send me by Sam Cooke.TALK IS CHEAP followed. CRAZY LOVE followed. Tonight it was righteous and mellow down to it’s very soul.
The great songs continued with BALLERINA.with more dazzling guitar work by Jay .Instead of ‘Here comes the man”,Van sang “Here comes the fuzz!’.I CAN’T STOP LOVIN’YOU the Ray Charles classic was next with the multi talented Paul Moran taking a solo on trumpet.Another classic followed, LITTLE VILLAGE with Jay,Van on sax and Paul Moran all excelling themselves.HELP ME followed and Van has done this song dozens of times but tonight he found new depths to the song with Paul switching to the organ and Van blowing some mean harmonica and repeating “It’s too late to stop now” over and over,which shows Van has no intention of fading away until he wants to. Then it was the traditional finale GLORIA with Van leaving the stage still blowing his harp and the band played on in a frenzy giving Van time to leave the building.