Van in vain

Not a night to remember. From my review of Van Morrison at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival:

If you love vintage blues and jazz, you may have mixed feelings about Van Morrison’s desire to dig through the archives and pay homage to the songs of his youth. In one respect, it surely has to be a Good Thing: three minutes of Van the Man singing Cole Porter will reach a far bigger audience than three tons of scribblings by any well-meaning journalist. After all, this music will survive only if people actually keep playing it.

Yet when a performance is this perfunctory and slapdash you have to wonder who benefits. Morrison slotted some sprightly themes into this set in the Cheltenham Jazz Festival’s Big Top – songs from the new album, You’re Driving Me Crazy, were well to the fore – yet his vocals were so limited and monotonous that, for a neutral at least, this show became a test of endurance. His alto sax playing was equally flat-footed. By the time he left the stage, his hard-working band – with MD Paul Moran doubling up on keyboards and trumpet – had generated enough energy to win an impassioned ovation from the audience. But strip away the mystique and the memories of Astral Weeks, and you were left wondering what the hardcore fans were actually applauding.

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Chief theatre critic for The Times. Twitter: CliveDavisUK Facebook: Instagram: clivephotos
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