Jan. 9, 2001
Van hits a high.
Story and Photos by Phil BonyataStanding almost completely motionless throughout the show, except for the occasional finger snap, one of rock's most enigmatic and profound poets made a rare and most welcome appearance to the Chicagoland area last night.
It's eeire how Van Morrison can remain so rigid throughout an entire performance. His stoicism only heightens his mysterious persona. Clad in a black suit adorned with hundreds of sparkles, black fedora and dark sunglasses, the overweight singer's minimilistic stage presence effectively enhanced his beautiful poetry. The well dressed and mostly middle-aged audience embraced this Celtic poet with a sedated fervor as personally intense as any mosh pitter at a Limp Bizkit show could only hope to muster. What the bard's friends lacked in testosterone laced aggression was more than made up for with introspective adulation.
Anchored by the crack Welsh bar band, the Red Hot Pokers, all attired in bright red suits which contrasted nicely with Morrison's stand alone all black suit, brought an uptempo slickness which laid the foundation for Van's magic. The Pokers horn section was a bit hotter and brassier than many Morrrison fans might be used to, but their brash enthusiasim brought a welcome newness to some of the older tunes. Pianist Linda Gail Lewis, sister of Jerry Lee Lewis, vocals were a perfect compliment to Morrison's sometimes melodic misgivings. Lewis' energetic piano playing style borrowed heavily from her famous brother's original stylings. Don't we all idolize our older siblings? Talented or not?
The pair delved heavily into their recent collaboration "You Win Again." Two hot duets that realized their special comaradirie were "I Can't Stop Lovin' You" and "Real Lover Gone.".
Suprisingly, "Moondance" was one of the lowlights of the evening, perhaps diminished by one too many retellings through the decades. Morrison seemed detached and slightly bored. Although "These Dreams of You" from the album "Moondance" is where Morrison's passionate and soulful voice caught fire, he rarely performs this gem. Maybe he should keep this song under wraps for another decade so the soulfulness that this song demands never fades. Other nuggets like "Brown Eyed Girl" and the recent hit "Back On Top" caught Morrison in an especially raw and heartfelt mood. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasim. The first few rows melted. The back rows shivered as the goosepimples formed.
Some of Morrison's original passion might be dimished by age and cynicism, but even that can't stop the heart form beating faster. From beating harder.
The Rosement Theater in Rosemont, Illinois and it's temporary inhabitants witnessed a little chunk in yet another chapter in Van Morrison's mysterious and magical journey.
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