Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Cheltenham Jazz Festival – Van Morrison – Live Review

Review by Charlie Flexen

I have never been to any of the events at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival before now despite the fact that I only live 20 minutes away, so I was pleasantly surprised when arriving at Montpelier gardens to find a real festival vibe. Beer tent and a dj playing some old school bangers to an audience caught up on the vibe! I had almost expected beret clad intellectuals lounging around reading poetry, but this was a welcome to all ages and musical tastes.

The Big top, the venue for Van Morrison was a large but not overbearing to the gardens, large enough for an audience of around 3000 with seating for a great view all round.

The gate opened at 8pm sharp and filled quickly and efficiently, a credit to the organisers. With Van due to start at 8.30 the last seats were still being occupied when without any ceremony the backstage curtains opened and on walked the man himself, straight into his set with harmonica playing. For the next hour and a half he back to back played his new album “Moving on skiffle
I admit I wasn’t familiar with it or any other songs played, being a veteran of moon dance and astral weeks, but it really didn’t matter because of the voice.

Distinctly powerful and melodic, perfect for the material of Woody Guthrie esque lyrics coupled with blues of a New Orleans feel, plenty of railroad references and a band complete with washboard and cornet playing.

Interaction with the audience was lacking and wouldn’t everyone have loved to hear Brown Eyed Girl or similar but it was 100% Van the Man and I can’t complain at that. The work ethic was fantastic, not a pause and a band second to none including a fantastic backing singer (Elle) made it a great experience and night out.

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