Sunday, 21 June 2009

Van disappoints his Bristol fans

To see Van Morrison at the Colston Hall in Bristol last night. It was a much slicker and more professional concert than the previous time I had seen him at this venue. He had a superb band backing him. He promised 90 minutes, and did that; no more, no less. There was a mix of the familiar and less so, with the inevitable Gloria as a slightly truncated finale. But the promoters had also spent a fair bit of effort suggesting that the Man would do some of his celebrated Astral Weeks album, which had gained accolades at the Hollywood Bowl and the Albert Hall. He didn't.

Back in the early 80s, when Bob Dylan was at his most contrary, I joined 60,000 others at his big concert at Slane Castle in Ireland. Needless to say, he was the headline act. And most people wanted to hear his great hits from the sixties. But Dylan was having none of it. He launched into an utterly obscure and unrecognisable mix of new songs and rearrangements of older ones. As tens of thousands of fans started to leave, he changed tune. Literally. And the very recognisable Blowing in the Wind cascaded across the midsummer night at Slane, encouraging the crowd to wait a bit before heading for the buses back to Dublin.

There were an awful lot of mightily teed off people in Bristol last night. And their temper wasn't eased by Van's insistence that the bars be shut for the evening too. What is it about big rock stars that they think they can so easily dismiss their fans - who had paid £45-£90 a head last night - and not give them at least some of what they came for?

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