Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Van Morrison and Jeff Beck, O2, London 30/10/16

Van Morrison - Bluesfest: O2, London 30/10/16
Van Morrison - Bluesfest: O2, London 30/10/16 Van Morrison - Bluesfest: O2, London 30/10/16

Septuagenarian heavy hitters and truly masters of their craft, Jeff Beck and Van Morrison, closed this year's successful BluesFest with aplomb and rounded off a top blues blasting weekend in the capital.

Guitar god extraordinaire (and never one for sitting still, musically) Jeff Beck showcased his new band and current CD “Loud Hailer”, featuring Rosie Bones on vocals and Carmen Vandenberg on backup guitar. It’s a mixed bag (as was evident tonight) full of social commentary and heavy riffage. Tomboy, Bones has a great voice but her affectactious “Hazel O'Conner” style of presentation can be off putting, but never the less topically, she's bang on it and so too are the propulsive rhythm section which is fortuitous to say the least, when you've replaced the likes of Tal Wilkenfeld and Vinny Colaiuta!

JB is, without a doubt, the quintessential musician’s musician. His technique and playing is a joy to listen too, with his finger picking and extensive use of the whammy bar, Beck is able to get pure magic from his gleaming white Strat. No one beats him at instrumentals either, “Blow By Blow” was fantastic, Beck’s “Bolero” was ballsy and the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" was truly epic. Guest vocalist Jimmy Hall, with his Bobby Womack rasp of a voice, was a welcome respite too. “Morning Dew”, from the seminal “Truth” album, was compelling and Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" was tossed in as well, as it warmed up the crowd nicely. Hall was at his towering best on a souped up reading of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come”. Job done appetite had been whetted!

With a lightening fast twenty minute turn around it was time for  Van the man to hit the stage revving off with a blustery sax solo on new cut “It’s Too Late” joined by some cool trumpet courtesy of his organ playing MD Paul Moran, light jazzy and the perfect start as he lilted into an almost ska-like version of 'Have I told You Lately' yes the Celtic Soul serenader was on top form commanding the stage (dressed like inspector Gadget!) bristling with energy and urgency backed by a tightly knit and utterly superb band (featuring most notably, Dave Keary's tasteful guitar) Van seems to have been reborn and enjoying his Blues / R&B roots, playing gritty harmonica on the classic "Baby Please Don't Go" and a duet ("Stormy Monday") with old timer, Chris Farlowe, who clearly enjoyed his 10 minutes of limelight, which clearly saw the main man crack a few smiles and bonhomie!

Morrison gave his fans what they wanted, plenty of hits such as “Moondance”,”Here Comes The Night” and a bone-rattling finale in, “Gloria”, all interspersed with tracks from his newly-released 36th studio album, the bluesy, melancholic “Keep Me Singing”.

“Ballerina” from “Astral Weeks” was the icing on the cake for me, one that definitely soothed my soul.

Intense, exciting vital Van is back and touring the UK throughout November. I'd highly recommend you catch him.
Words Emrys Baird

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