Friday: At the Helicon

The dogs did not have much walking yesterday; just one, half the length of those they have enjoyed every other day. We were meeting Vola for an early lunch at the Thatch, a pub I had never set foot inside until yesterday. The pub is run by members of Vola’s family, including Michaela, the granddaughter of Cousin’s friend and my partner in literary jaunts Anne who died two years ago. I last saw Michaela about the time she transferred from primary to secondary school, so it took me a few moments to realise who she was.
Vola started talking about the Van Morrison shows in Bellaghy yesterday. She hadn’t been, but she said there was a great buzz and so much traffic that the town came to a standstill. Cousin and I took note and turned up for tonight’s gig an hour and a half early. Even so, most of the parking spaces were full. It was a beautiful evening, the day had been hot and sunny. We sat outside with some drinks; Diet Coke for Cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon for me and watched and talked as the place filled up. Is there anyone you know, I asked her. She looked around her. No, she said but I think that man is Patrick Magee, the Brighton Bomber.
Time passed quickly. We finished our drinks and headed for the Ladies just before the announcement to ask us to take our seats. Very good seats as it turned out. Back row by the aisle, with a perfect view of the stage. We watched as the roadies completed their work.

Set up

Two minutes to seven and the band strode in stage. I have to say the band because I don’t know the musicians’ names, but they were amazing. All played multiple instruments. If Van the Man had had to pull out for any reason they alone would have been worth seeing and hearing. The keyboard player, who we guessed was the band leader, and the percussionist were the first to make my jaw drop. Continue reading

Replay: Van the Man

I repost these oldies from MyT in no particular order, This one is from November 2009 and I had been on the boat. I had evidently been chatting with Brendan, whose blog I have been neglecting recently, about Van Morrison. The man is a genius. I doubt if I’ll ever be asked onto Desert Island Discs, but I reckon Astral weeks would be the album I would want to take with me.

 I didn’t get to connect Friday, but am home and online now.

Maybe there’s a secret to it t to which I am not privy, but getting out of London on a Friday afternoon is always a nightmare. I have to travel less than seventy miles so why should the journey take nearly three and a half hours?
OK, I hate motorways, and even if I didn’t ,they are impractical given Cat’s travel sickness record. Believe me, when your car smells of cat sick and the animal responsible is crying loudly you want to be able to stop quickly and clean up, not count the miles until the next exit. But the first of my traffic problems were well before any motorway was in sniffing distance. Near gridlock in SE16.
How come so many people are free to travel in the afternoon? They can’t all be like me, part employed/part freelance can they? And was today really National Bad Driving Day, or did it just feel like ir?
Fortunately Cat slept soundly all journey apart from when I stopped for the loo and to get some food shopping..
The radio was tuned to Radio Two. It was the Steve Wright show. Normally I can’t stand then man . His continued success is a complete mystery to me, but he was playing some good tunes today and had interesting guests. But after a while I couldn’t bear listening to him anymore and , thanks to last night’s ‘conversation’ with Brendano, I had a couple of Van Morrison CDs with me. Well, more than a couple actually. And as I type I’m continuing to listen to him. And he’s glorious,
The marina is pretty empty tonight so I’m hoping no one has heard me when I have felt the need to sing along,. Because Van is a Genius. Deliberate capital G. not a typo. Moody and unpredictable ,as anyone who has been to see him live will know, but an undeniable Genius. And when you do go to see him live, .it’s part of the evening’s excitement and entertainment, not knowing whether he will be Van the Performer or Van the Sulky Bear who hides at the back of the stage barely acknowledging the audience.
So tonight I’ve been singing and dancing and remembering just how good and how wide his range is. Listening to tracks old and new and hearing how his voice has changed, and how he has continually explored and experimented. And I feel amazingly lucky that his career has spanned my life from his Them days onwards – oh Gloria!. I am so struck by the integrity of his music and the way it connects at such a visceral level. Straight to the guts and heart,
And Madame George comes on and I know I am alive, and I’m glad!
The connection tonight is dreadful, so if I manage to post this it’ll be an achievement in itself. In case that’s all I manage to do, goodnight all.