Just another Network site

Review: Shhhhh, and get in your seat; Van Morrison is on stage

Review: Shhhhh, and get in your seat; Van Morrison is on stage

  • It’s been 20 years since Van Morrison has played around and you’ve gotten lazy.
  • A Van Morrison concert starts on time.
  • Review: Shhhhh, and get in your seat; Van Morrison is on stage 01/18/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:29pm] Photo reprints | Article reprints
  • If the ticket says 8 p.m., you can expect Morrison on the Ruth Eckerd Hall stage at 8, not 8:01 nor 8:02.
  • Morrison contributes a few songs on saxophone.

CLEARWATER — You are out of practice. I get that.

@TB_Times: Review: Shhhhh, and get in your seat; Van Morrison is on stage

CLEARWATER — You are out of practice. I get that.

It’s been 20 years since Van Morrison has played around here, and you’ve gotten lazy. Almost as if you do not appreciate the eccentricities of a bona fide rock and roll curmudgeon.

So, to refresh your memory:

A Van Morrison concert starts on time. If the ticket says 8 p.m., you can expect Morrison on the Ruth Eckerd Hall stage at 8, not 8:01 nor 8:02. And for the couple who had the seats in front of me for Tuesday night’s show? Sorry. Showing up at 8:45 p.m. doesn’t mean you’re fashionably late. It means you missed half the show.

Furthermore, do not expect a greatest hits performance. Yes, he played Moondance. And Wild Night and Brown Eyed Girl. He even closed with Gloria, in all its G-L-O-R-I-A glory.

But this is not the Beach Boys selling memories. This is about music. Real music. Not the MTV version. Not a I-know-this-one playlist from Spotify.

By the time he was 18, Morrison was the driving force behind the creation of a North Belfast nightclub. He was a disciple of American blues. Of jazz. He was cool before the rest of us understood cool.

And so there will be no pyrotechnics. No stage banter about how great it is to be in Tampa Bay. On stage, he is the jazz club owner who isn’t going to pander to the clientele.

In the 20 years since he last appeared here, Morrison has played roughly 100 U.S. shows that were not in California. And his “tour” will end on Thursday night after a grand total of two shows in Las Vegas and three in Clearwater. In other words, be thankful you spent a foolish amount of money to be here.

For this is not a concert to tweet or Periscope. You’re going to play by his rules, and you’re going to like it. No, scratch that. You’re going to love it.

You do not feel the bass pounding in your chest; you feel the mood in your soul. He brings a five-piece band dressed in all-black, and they do solos as if they’ve earned them from the headmaster.

The music is tight. Nuanced. The setlist veers from decade to decade, and from hits to nuggets. Morrison contributes a few songs on saxophone. A few more with his harmonica. Otherwise, he’s front and center with a microphone in front of him and his vocals on display.

And, dear heaven, what a voice it is.

Morrison, now 71, is a terrific songwriter, but it’s not his legacy. He’s got history in his satchel, but it’s been a long time since a new song has demanded its own conversation.

It is the voice that brings you here, and it is the voice that soars past generations, trends, critics and economics. If he sang the ingredients off a box of granola, it would still be music to many ears.

Morrison is ageless without being archaic. It is his insistence on delivering music on his terms that separates him from oldies acts that survive on nostalgia. In some ways, it is hubris as art. He is that good, and that confident in his delivery.

For those attending his next two sold-out shows at Ruth Eckerd Hall, it is impossible to predict what you might hear. He will likely play 2-3 songs off his latest album Keep Me Singing. He might dust off Wavelength, Someone Like You or Tore Down a la Rimbaud since he didn’t sing them Tuesday.

But the songs are details. The gift is the passion. The love of music, and the proficiency of a half-century’s worth of experiences and stages that circle the globe.

If you have tickets, congratulations.

And if you do not, close your eyes and imagine that voice.

You feel better already, don’t you?

Review: Shhhhh, and get in your seat; Van Morrison is on stage

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.