Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Van Morrison Live at Montreux 1980/1974|
Actor: Van Morrison
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Van Morrison's long and illustrious career has included many appearances at the Montreux Festival. This two DVD set focuses on two performances that have been chosen by Van to create his first ever DVD release. Dating f... more »
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STEPHEN T. McCARTHY | a Mensa-donkey in Phoenix, Airheadzona. | 01/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
In a sense, VAN MORRISON has figured prominently in my life and in fact, in an indirect way, he saved me from a life of great regret...
I was a huge fan of VAN THE MAN in 1986, and one day I returned home practically giddy from having just located what was, at that time, a few hard-to-find Van Morrison vinyl LPs. As fate would have it, just as I got out of my car, with my new used albums tucked under one arm, Andy, a loyal old friend of mine pulled up to the curb in his battered old pickup truck. Andy and I'd had something of a falling-out over some inconsequential issue, and we hadn't seen or spoken to each other for some time. But I was in such a good mood, having just acquired long sought after Morrison music, that in that very moment, I buried the past, forgave Andy for whatever slight I'd been holding against him, and I greeted him as the true friend of fifteen years he really was. We spoke briefly and then parted as the good pals we'd always been. That was the last time I saw Andy - truly one of the greatest friends I have ever had. Not long afterwards, I learned of his suicide in California City.
Many times in the subsequent years, I've revisited that day in my mind and shuddered to think, "What if I hadn't just found those Van Morrison records, and hadn't been in such a magnanimous mood? What if, instead, I had given Andy the cold shoulder? Treated him like a dog? How would I have ever lived with that last memory and the tremendous remorse I would have carried with me all these years?" Fortunately, I haven't had to beat myself up over a regrettable event that might have occurred twenty-one years ago. In a way, I owe the music of Van Morrison much gratitude for changing my life in an unexpected way!
This last Christmas, I received the DVD, VAN MORRISON LIVE AT MONTREUX 1980/1974 from my friend, Kevin, "The Kansas Kid." Perhaps you've heard of him? He's currently wanted in seven states for crimes ranging from bank robbery and train robbery, to shooting innocent zoo animals...with a camera. Kevin's a good buddy and he knows how to please ol' Stephen T. Even though on the scale of Life's important "stuffs", a Van Morrison DVD isn't going to rate real high, I've given VAN MORRISON LIVE AT MONTREUX five stars because his music is understandably meaningful to me, and because if you too are a fan of Van The Man, this selection is a real no-brainer; you can buy with total confidence.
I've seen Van perform live at least four times in my life. When he's in the mood, he's a compelling entertainer. At the Montreux Jazz Festival, he was definitely in the mood, and his band - as always - consisted of nothing less than the finest musicians. You know Van...if a musician can't please the man, they're out on their can!
Both discs in this set are excellent, but whereas the June 30, 1974 performance is shorter and more Blues dominated, I prefer the July 19, 1980 show. It contains some of Van's more extended Jazzy pieces which are rarely, if ever, played live anymore - particularly those long, meditative works from his underrated COMMON ONE release. Van's looking pretty trim here (you know, for Van, I mean), and we get to see him with his outrageously talented horn men, Pee Wee Ellis (tenor sax) and Mark Isham (trumpet).
Some of the performance highlights for me include:
TROUBADOURS - I always considered this to be one of the lesser tracks on what is easily one of Van's greatest sets, INTO THE MUSIC. But here, Isham and Ellis are blowing as if to save their lives, and when the audience broke into applause at its conclusion, I very nearly did the same thing right in my own living room!
During the intro to SPIRIT, John Allair locks into such a spirited, funky groove that he can't remain seated at the organ - the music itself demands that he stand!
SUMMERTIME IN ENGLAND - The song moves from a meditation to unrestrained exuberance, where Pee Wee nearly blows the roof off the place, until the song downshifts back into a meditation just prior to launching into a "fantabulous" rendition of Morrison's MOONDANCE masterpiece.
HAUNTS OF ANCIENT PEACE - This gives us a tremendously soulful solo from Pee Wee.
There's a wonderful little moment early on in this ultimate version of TUPELO HONEY, where Isham and Ellis simultaneously play their respective horn parts, and then as they back away from their mics, they glance at each other and exchange self-satisfied smiles. Here is two fine musicians in their prime and immersed in the joy of their art. There's no competition; there's no race (even though Isham is White and Ellis is Black); there's no time; there's just this NOW, and the knowledge that supreme artists are combining their talents in the act of creating something very beautiful!
On the downside, despite the quality of musicianship, LISTEN TO THE LION never comes close to matching the studio version from the Saint Dominic's Preview album, but then how could it? That is one of the most introspective and intense pieces of music ever recorded. Morrison could tap that depth only once. (His version on 1973's, IT'S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW - unquestionably one of the greatest live albums ever released - never came close either. Saint Dominic's LISTEN TO THE LION was just too roaringly glorious to ever be replicated even by Van, the man himself. That was a once-in-a-lifetime performance!) But when Van sings, "I believe I've transcended myself, child" in the encore, ANGELOU, for a minute there, it almost seems as if indeed he has!
WHY do I think this live concert DVD is so good? Well, sure I could talk about the various camera angles, the clear picture, the crisp sound. I could explain why Pee Wee Ellis is a saxgod. I could discuss in greater detail the topnotch, eight-piece band and the Jazz explorations of one of the world's great songwriters and his Irish muse. Or I could simply quote from one of his own songs: "It ain't why, why, why. It ain't why, why, why. It ain't why, why, why. It just IS!"
Hopefully, you have learned two things from this review of mine:
1) You can purchase VAN MORRISON LIVE AT MONTREUX 1980/1974 with complete assurance that as a Morrison fan (or just a person who appreciates exceptional musicianship) your money will be well spent. And...
2) You should always treat your loved ones very good because you just never know when you are seeing them for the ... very ... last ... time.
With Van You Never Know
James D. DeWitt | Fairbanks, AK United States | 05/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a serious fan of Van Morrison. I own all of his released albums, and a few bootlegs. I've read a couple of the biographies, and I've seen him live 8-10 times. "Astral Weeks" is among my very favorite albums by any artist at any time. This is the first DVD of Van I've ever seen. I bought it with some trepidation.
This is an artist who walked on stage in London and said, as others have noted, "Let's get this over with," and then gave a wrteched performance, walking off stage after 45 minutes and never returning. This is an artist who, in a Chicago show, blew us out of our seats at the Chicago Opera House with a 2.5-hour set, four encores and a version of "Madam George" that gives me goosebumps 32 years later.
These performances are much better than the London show, but a far cry from what Van can do if he chooses. They are workmanlike performances of a mix of good and indifferent songs. Especially in the 1980 show, the band seems to be much more involved than Van. That's surprising, given the mix of artists involved. I'm also curious why these shows weren't released for 32 and 26 years, respectively. But I suppose we can chalk it up to Van's notoriously bad relationship with his labels and managers.
If you are a Van Morrison fan, these DVDs belong in your library. If you aren't a huge fan, you might buy them for the occasional glimpse of what Van can do. Van Morrison, for all his flaws, is a hugely influential, seminal artist. The DVDs are a glimpse - just a glimpse - why."
The music speaks for itself
Gordon Pfannenstiel | Russell, KS United States | 12/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Van Morrison is self-effacing to the maximum. His is a jazz musician's mentality...let the music speak for itself. That is certainly what happens with this incredible concert video. Anyone who is familiar with Van Morrison knows he is a reticent live performer, and what a pleasure it is to see older vintage concert video that does not, because it cannot, rely on light shows, editing, audience shots, etc. ad nauseum. Here, it is all about the music, and like a good jazz band, the interplay among the musicians is as good as it gets.
This is a 2 DVD set, the 1st is a Montreux show from 1980, the 2nd from 1974. Look at the '74 show as a bonus disc. It's much shorter (just under 50 minutes) and bare bones (Van with a keyboardist, bassist and drummer). It's wonderful, but the '80 concert is just jawdropping. It features an 8 piece band with 2 horn players (Mark Isham and Pee Wee Harris!!!), 2 percussionists, 2 keyboardists, bass and guitar. They never get in each other's way and never overplay. Van is just in wonderful voice. The concert is over 90 minutes long and still ends too quickly.
This DVD is all about the music. The sound is incredible, warm and natural, with each instrument given space in the mix. You are literally on the front row.
In my opinion, this is as good as it gets, and hopefully will spur more releases of vintage concerts by great artists like Van Morrison."
Exquisite! Shivers up the back of the spine...
Mark Nicholson | Southern Arizona USA | 11/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Van fans, this is the real deal. An incredible performance by Van with an exceptional band. The horn section of Pee Wee Ellis and Mark Isham are worth the price alone.
This might be the best $15 I ever spent. I would have spent $150 if I had to. Most of us will probably never get a chance to see Van live in a setting like this but thankfully we have these videos for posterity. My comments are about the 1980 performance."