Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Van Morrison goes back to Orangefield High School and gets top marks

Van Morrison performing at his old school, Orangefield High last night
Van Morrison performing at his old school, Orangefield High last night

With bottles of water and fizzy pop the only refreshments on offer and a curfew of 9.30pm in place, last night at the EastSide Arts Festival was a decidedly un-rock 'n' roll affair.

But that hadn't stopped a capacity crowd from shelling out £85 a head to see local legend Van Morrison.

The last time Morrison trod the boards of Orangefield High, he would have been ‘Van the Boy', but he returned every inch the conquering hero.

After the customary Celtic Swing intro had set the mood, the first words out of the singer's mouth were the opening lines of Got To Go Back.

“When I was a young boy back in Orangefield,” crooned the portly figure in black, “I used to look out my classroom window and dream.”

Morrison's dreams have certainly come true, and if his choice of setlist is to be taken at face value, he wouldn't change a thing.

“If I had to do it all over, I'd do the same thing again,” he sang on third song Only A Dream.

As for his erstwhile classmates and teachers, several hundred of them had crammed into the school's assembly hall.

The school’s closure is a shame on many levels, not least because the acoustics in the hall were better than those in many purpose-built music venues.

Every note Morrison and the band played was crystal clear, and the main man's vocals have rarely sounded better.

Needless to say, he was hardly Mr Chatty, but he did seem in good form, whether announcing a “comedy section” (“Billy Connolly said I was very, very, very, very funny”) or delivering an impromptu Clint Eastwood impression during Rough God Goes Riding.

Elsewhere, Morrison delighted with a string of hits including Moondance, Whenever God Shines His Light, Days Like This and Brown Eyed Girl.

The highlight of the evening was arguably the 1999 track Precious Time.

The sentiment of the lyrics (“It doesn't matter to which God you pray/Precious time is slipping away”) took on a deeper resonance given the occasion.

Now in his late sixties, it's clear Morrison has fallen in love with his home country all over again. The star has played everywhere from the Harp Bar to Dunluce Castle over the past few years, and he's booked for two nights at the Europa Hotel in October. But for sheer nostalgia and cultural significance, nothing is likely to top last night's school reunion at Orangefield.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife Galleries

More

Latest Entertainment News

Latest Music News

Latest Film & TV News

Latest Eating Out News

Horoscopes

Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant

Libra:

Don't let a manipulator take advantage of you. Someone with a sob story will ask for money or favours. Be prepared to turn them away. Although you want to be gracious, it simply isn't wise to give assistance to people with bad motives. Other people have warned you about this trickster. Take their advice. There's often a good reason why a person has a bad reputation. If anyone dares accuse you of being selfish, stay strong. You have a right to use your hard earned money for your own benefit.More