Van Morrison in California

Van Morrison in California



Some rockers get to a certain age and take a career left turn.  Queens’ guitarist Brian May completed his PhD thesis in astronomy, then delved into antique stereoscopic photography. Deep Purple’s keyboardist Jon Lord recently completed a suite for flute and orchestra in memory of author Sir John Mortimer. Van Morrison has been following his muse wherever it takes him.  In early October Morrison plays a series of four gigs in California (preceded by a rather anachronistic show at the Hard Rock in Vegas). 

After last year’s heralded appearance at the Hollywood Bowl (resulting in the first release under his own label, a revisiting of his masterful Astral Weeks album), Morrison saw his career assayed by Greil Marcus.  When That Rough God Goes Riding is a wonderfully meandering 200 pages of reflections on the singer’s career.  The recurrent theme of the book is Morrison’s search for the ‘aaaargh’ in his singing voice. The book opens and closes with reflections from Morrison’s last tour in California.

Although Morrison is my desert island artist, Morrison can be spotty in concert. I have seen several transcendent shows, and a few that were very workmanlike. The latter were marked by a glaring digital clock that counted down from 60 minutes as soon as he strode onstage. It will be interesting to see where Morrison goes with his upcoming setlist. While not as strident as Dylan in overhauling past work, Morrison seems to deal with his big hits (“Moondance” and “Have I Told You Lately”) by breezing through jazzy reinterpretations.  His best moments are when he loses himself in the song, so I am hoping for “Listen to the Lion” somewhere in the set.

Oct 3

Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel

Oct 5

Los Angeles The Greek Theatre

Oct 6

San Diego Civic Theatre

Oct 8

San Francisco Masonic Auditorium

Oct 9

Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Bowl


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.