Friday, August 31, 2012

Van the Man

Winding into a holiday weekend, it can’t be wrong to remember that Van Morrison — singer, songwriter and artist — celebrates his sixty-seventh birthday today. ....
Martin Scorsese documented Morrison’s performance with the Band on film in The Last Waltz (video above). Morrison overcame a major case of stage fright, first to save the show and then to steal it. Greil Marcus covered the show for Rolling Stone. Marcus described Van’s performance:
Van Morrison made his entrance and he turned the show around. I had seen him not many minutes before prowling the balconies, dressed nondescriptly in a shirt and jeans, scowling; but there he was onstage, in an absurd maroon suit and a green top, singing to the rafters. They cut into “Caravan” — with [producer] John Simon waving the Band’s volume up and down, and the horns at their most effective — while Van burned holes in the floor. He was magic, and I thought, Why didn’t he join the Band years ago? More than any other singer, he fit in, his music and theirs made sense together. It was a triumph, and as the song ended Van began to kick his leg into the air out of sheer exuberance, and he kicked his way right offstage like a Rockette. The crowd had given him a fine welcome and they cheered wildly when he left.
Scorsese’s camera caught Van with the barest hint of a smile as he exited stage left. “Hey, Van the Man,” Robbie Robertson exulted. .... [more]