A musical legend in any one of his six professional decades, Van Morrison's live performances can be both inspirational and enigmatic. In support of his newly released 41st studio album, Three Chords and the Truth, this tour started in the UK, will move to Oakland, and then return to London and Paris in March.
On the second night of his 5 night mini-residency at Caesars, the question could be asked "which one will we get tonight?", fully engaged Van or a legend going through the motions? The 74 year old, as he stated before last year's Vegas shows, isnt still performing for the money or adulation, but rather for the love of the live show. And, on this night in VEGAS, it showed!
Supported by a 7 piece group of competent musicians, Van opened with a couple of bluesy numbers just to get warmed up. But, with the title track of the new record, a 60's feeling R&B; Sam Cooke type number, and 1972's "Saint Dominic's Preview", things got going in a great direction. During the 23 song set, there was no banter between songs and no fake swagger to incite the packed house.
This show was great songs performed by a master at his craft. Switching easily between alto and harmonica, you can tell Van still loves to play as well as sing during these shows. And, along with his 2 longtime sidemen, Paul Moran on trumpet and keys, and Dave Leary on guitars, every tune included fine musicianship, as well as Vans strong voice. Morrison's addition of Teena Lyle on vibes and percussion is another great addition.
You'd never believe this was a man singing after 55 years in the business. Not once in this 90 minute show, did his soulful voice let him down. He sounded like it was 1964, 1984, and 2004! Still going strong. Being raised in the tradition of great jazz and blues singers, much of the night's music was devoted to some of the standards. Particularly noteworthy on this night were both the Muddy Waters tune "Baby Please Don't Go" and the John Lee Hooker classic "Think Twice Before You Go", both great grooves by all in the band.
But, it wasn't until the 1971 classic "Wild Night" an hour into the set did this crowd get truly involved. The last 30 minutes were devoted to the hits. "Moondance", "Brown Eyed Girl", and "Gloria" brought the evening to a great crescendo, with a ten minute jam by the band after Van had left the stage. A wonderful night of music from a great musician. We should all be so lucky to continue to see our legends still performing at this high level after six decades.