Concert Review: Soul Salute to Van Morrison – Galatos February 27, 2021

It was a Wild Night as the spirit of the King of Celtic Soul, Van Morrison, was made flesh and, most importantly, sound.

Along with a great 10-piece band, this was in large part due to lead singer Adam Hattaway whose voice came close to conjuring the magic of that Caledonian Soul Orchestra of the Seventies. As heard on the classic It’s Too Late to Stop Now album.

I have only seen Morrison live once, at Wembley Arena 30 years ago. That burst of revelation and spirit when you first hear the Voice was pretty close as the band start with Bulbs off Veedon Fleece.

Kicking off in centre-field. Soulful singing and the music takes off with Country Rock accents from electric and acoustic guitars. Bravely, they start with a deep dive into buried treasures and Fleece is an overlooked album which marked the end of his classic period 1967 to 1974.

Follow that with another gem off the album, Who Was That Masked Man? Hattaway sings with a perfectly pitched falsetto which he can reproduce at will throughout the evening.

These Dreams of You. I hear the horns for the first time, saxophones and trumpet. Ray Charles name-checked and so is Hushabye. Scat Jazz vocals and the band show their loose but tight Soul Revue chops.

The audience are in large part yer Boomers. Many obsessive fans of which Hattaway seems to be just as much.

Vanlose Stairway. One of Morrison’s best Gospel-styled songs. Send me some lovin’ said Little Richard. A smokey alto sax solo. The drummer paired with a conga player gives this one a propulsive drive.

Back-up singer Morgin comes out front to lead Warm Love with a nice soft-soul version.

Kendal Elise guests on And It Stoned Me and is a little under-powered in this company until the finale.

Bright Side of the Road lifts the curse of the Dark End of the Street. The bright swinging sounds get the floorboards vibrating.

Hard Nose the Highway and the singer grabs this one and fills it full of Soul morphing into Americana. Keyboard sparkles and shimmers on the high notes. The bands phrasing and interplay could come off The Last Waltz movie.

Astral Weeks. Just wonderful and full of mystery and magic as the singer takes off with a pied-piper flute in tow. There was a time I would start the day with this song for many months on end.

With it comes some mixed emotions as the alert goes off to announce more lockdown.

Rough God Goes Riding and this is worked into a Blues mixed with Country as the band lock into a great rhythm drone.

Second set Hattaway promises belters and stompers and he’s not wrong.

Wavelength. Falsetto Soul and pretty impressive in a voice not too far from Eddie Kendricks.

Ain’t Nothing You Can Do. A Bobby Bland showpiece and the band start to get into Soul Revue mode full-on with changes of pace and timing which can spin and pivot on a coin.

Into the Mystic. The guitar chimes and bends out a little Gypsy Soul. Hattaway is really getting into those idiosyncratic signature Vannerisms. Stop-start vocals. High kicks and leaping around.

Wild Night and Jackie Wilson Said. Incendiary R’n’B.

Caravan. Loose but tight. The drums step out in front and lead. Turn up your radio and letta me hear that Soul.

They continue to wind up the speed. Bert Bern’s classic Here Comes the Night is played in attack mode. Garage band R’n’B.

Brown Eyed Girl, Morrison’s splendid reply to Berns, is given some Caribbean conga beats.

Domino. You may get disgusted/ Start thinking that I’m acting strange. Thrashed out with a bit of New Orleans rhythm.

Moonshine Whiskey. The engine is smoking with riffs galore. The band is jamming and threatening to morph into Brian Jonestown Massacre. Speaking in tongues, chants and incantations. Shards of glass emanate from the keyboards. Incisive guitar solo from Elmore Jones. Are we healed now?

And we are caught one more time on Cyprus Avenue. Singer lets it all go now with this meditation on the mysterious. My insides shake just like a leaf on a tree. Builds the tension to a dramatic finale.

But they come back and do Tupelo Honey. Soothing R’n’B with Gospel tones.  I’ve Been Working has some Latin drive with fast, funky congas. And guitar shredding.

Of course, it all has to end with Gloria. Garage thrash with dissonant Jazz and Velvet drones.

Could not have asked for better as a Van Morrison obsessive. Broke out of the familiar mold and worked that spirit up in the second half.

Says Hattaway. We could keep playing all night long. Until 6am. There was no doubt they could have.    

Rev Orange Peel

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