ROCK Van Morrison
Edinburgh: Playhouse, Fri 2 Apr; Glasgow: Clyde Auditorium, Sat 3 Apr.
Frith Street, Soho, on a drizzly Tuesday evening. The List is preparing to get liggy with it in Ronnie Scott's where the artist perpetually known as The Man will showcase his new album Back On Top. Meanwhile, the rest of Soho seems oblivious to the thrill of seeing Van Morrison up close and personal.
Like other ’legendary jazz venues‘, Ronnie Scott's is more concerned with ambience than half-decent decor. Pictures of jazz legends cover every inch of wall space, an appropriate setting for an artist who always works within 'classic’ genre parameters. With its modest proportions packed out, and celebrity guests like Bob Geldof shoehorned into their seats, Morrison takes the stage to a modest fanfare.
Over the course of a straight-to-the-point half-hour set, an almost garrulous (almost . . . ) Morrison and band introduce a selection of new material ranging from the punchy to the ponderous, punctuated with chat and even — say it ain’t so - jokes. The single 'Precious Time', which is to Radio 2 what Britney Spears and Boyzone are to Radio 1, is Van bubblegum with its
Belief system: Faithless
Top cat: Van Morrison
dumbed-down ska swing. But the album's title track has a likeable jazzy lilt and an ’I Will Survive' lyric — ironically for an indefatigable R8iB warhorse who seems unassailable in the eyes of his fans.
The last time Morrison toured Britain, it was with Bob Dylan. There were — allegedly — a few ego scenarios, unsurprisingly for rock's two most notorious grouches. Now Morrison gets to rule the roost and his persona on stage is that of benevolent dictator, simultaneously demonstrating his control over and rapport with his band.
Much of Morrison’s output in the 905 has been about collaboration or looking back. His last album, The Philosopher’s Stone, was a two-decade retrospective of previously unreleased material. Before that he worked with Georgie Fame on an album of jazz standards and reworked his most enduring song, 'Gloria’, with John Lee Hooker. So it is tempting to regard Back On Top, his first album for Virgin's Pointblank label, as a fresh page in the Van songbook.
After the gig, Morrison holds court in exclusive drinking den Soho House. Requests for autographs are handled through a member of his entourage while the man himself remains aloof. Some things don't change — everywhere Van Morrison goes, someone wants to shake his hand. (Fiona Shepherd)
Born out of the studio a? house Dis, Sister Bliss and Rollo, :dlll‘ili‘S‘, made their debut z'i Salsa l\l(‘(i This epic lie: Top 30, (lLillit‘, on to the heady heights of the trip ten when it was re-released
in} tltlk P. :,"(A:\'\)\J‘ i"(
(?|(.)llit"(‘." itie'itl‘s Kite' The '396 debut albun., Revive/rte, has riotie an t(: sell over a million :opies '.‘.i>r!ti‘.‘.iitle During its iei ording, tht band
membership expai‘rled, iiiaking live perferrnante a real poss'bil.t‘,-', the line- up taking in drums, bass, guitar and keyboards
O'i stage the fora! point is always shaven-headed vocalist, Maxi Jazz, a man of slight build but huge presence, his gravelly, muttered raps flowing effortlessly over the band ' tluid sound. 'Everyone coiries to our gigs,' he says 'Little kids, touples in middle age and teenagers haying it to the house '
Their latest album, Sunday Hpm is not ‘.‘.’lill()lll its boiiibastit, nands in the air
Glasgow: Barrow-hand, Fri 9 Apr.
The iirgtion of li/e performed dante iriusit has, until retentlv, had a real bad rep . wailing lialisliee, dressed in a pink satin nightie rniiiies ﬁt; a poor quality tape recording; sht- oarkeil by a (ouple of blokes in White paper boilersuits, standing in
Oil; i’iiov. the srene
1 front of t‘.‘.'o unplugged keyboards Few
have managed to surcesstully carry it out to its full potential Underworld, Orbital and the Prodigy have innovated, adopting some of rock's traditions while sticking ‘.'Vlill the elett'enir machine heart. Faithless take rnusit made for (lubs and retreate it using a full live band, doing ‘.Vlili house what Massive Attack and The Roots have done With hip hop, all the time losing none of the intensity or immediacy of a track on the (lanceflooi
moments, and the single, 'Ciod is a DJ' represents these most healthily Their most recent release, lion'vever, shows a more measured and teriipereu side to their musit 'Briiig My Family Batk' is a downbeat, almost introspective affair, bringing a dark and atmospheric edge to a dominated repertoire when performed ll‘.1‘
hitherto four-to-the- loor A ration which , rarely fails to
move or astound i".larl; Rebeitsoni
preview MUSIC Personal Stereo
This issue: Keiron Mellott from Pilotcan
Last record you listened to before you left the house?
Secret Name, the new LP by Low — the best record We heard in a long time. What is the last album you bought? Knock by Smog. Bill Callaghan is an intensely amusing songwriter. You get the impression he's laughing at you, but he still manages to deliver the goods
Name a new band you've discovered? My friends David and Stuart have a band called The Zephyrs. They've been around for a long time in various incarnations, but the current line up is the classic. Stuart has the kind of cracked voice that makes Will Oldham so compelling, and they’re fucking great live.
Who first made you want to make music?
Julian Cope singing on Top Of The Pops. Barefoot on a piano, resplendent in his leather trousers. I didn’t know if I wanted to kiss him or be him.
What song do you wish you'd written?
Everyday I find a song I wish I'd written, but if I had to narrow it down I’d say ’Carwash Hair’ by Mercury Rev, or ’Untitled' by The Cure. Both songs are just beyond compare.
As a teenager which popstar did you have on your wall?
Ithink i had a picture of Clare Grogan somewhere.
What’s your favourite own song? ’Anakin' off our first LP. | sat down to write the lyrics to a new piece of music we had but nothing came out. Then at rehearsal I just made it up. It's about a friend of ours who was abused, but I just tell everyone it's about Darth Vader. I’m very sentimental like that. Name a non-musical influence.
Star Wars I guess a lot of people probably say that.
What do you sing in the shower?
; sing lvlogwai songs in the shower. Who would you be on Stars In Their Eyes?
David from The Zephyrs. We’re both very good looking. It's a tall thing. Pi/otcan’s album The Boy Who Knew Maps is released on Evol, Mon 72 Apr.
l—lSApr i999 THE LIST41