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Van Morrison fans to enjoy Moondance... in Irish

Damhsa na Gealaí* has been translated by poets

By Claire McNeilly

Published 24/09/2015

Van Morrison performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue in east Belfast
Van Morrison performs at his birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue in east Belfast

Van Morrison fans will get the opportunity to witness a unique take on his work tomorrow night.

Moondance: The Van Morrison Project features Irish language versions of the 'The Man's' songs, translated by poets Cathal Poirteir and Gabriel Rosenstock.

And aficionados of the legendary east Belfast singer, whose recent landmark 70th birthday Cyprus Avenue concerts were broadcast all over the world, needn't worry about the quality of the acts belting out the Morrison epics at Letterkenny's An Grianan Theatre.

Leading the way will be Liam O Maonlai, former singer of Hothouse Flowers, who will be joined by David Blake and Hilary Bow and supported by the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra.

The music will be accompanied by screen projections of the lyrics by Margaret Lonergan.

"This is Morrison's work rendered in a passionate, driving show that fuses exquisite Irish versions of his lyrics with a full band sound that is nothing less than a Caledonian soul orchestra," said Belfast-born Liam Carson, director of IMRAM, the Irish Language Literature Festival, which is putting on the show tour.

"As Van passes his 70th birthday, we're delighted to pay tribute to his poetic vision and putting on a show that draws deep on both Morrison's intensity and the well-springs of Gaelic culture."

O Maonlai took on the unusual project after a similar experiment with Leonard Cohen songs last year.

As with any Morrison 'concert' the playlist is not published in advance, but it's understood Gloria, Tupelo Honey and Full Force Gale and of course, Moondance, will definitely get an airing.

Morrison is no stranger to Gaelic music, of course, and Irish Heartbeat, his legendary 1988 collaboration with The Chieftains, was one of his most commercially successful works.

The rhythm and blues maestro may now be a septugenarian but interest in his music has never been higher.

Some Peace Of Mind, his duet with the late Bobby Womack, is this week's record of the week on Radio 2. And Astral Weeks, the classic album that made him a global star, is to be rereleased in a fortnight's time - 47 years on from its 1968 debut.

There will be four previously unreleased recordings on this deluxe edition, which highlights the interplay between Morrison and the celebrated quartet that joined him in the studio for the landmark recording: bassist Richard Davis, guitarist Jay Berliner, percussionist Warren Smith Jr and Modern Jazz Quartet drummer Connie Kay.

These bonus tracks include the first take of Beside You, the full version of Slim Slow Slider and a stripped-back version of Madame George, with the vibraphone more foregrounded in the mix.

Warner Brothers are also releasing a remastered version of Morrison's follow-up album Moondance, with five unreleased bonus tracks including an early take of Give Me Kiss without piano, horns or backing vocals, and a funkier, alternate version of I've Been Working.

Last month Morrison's vast back catalogue finally arrived on streaming platforms after he agreed a digital deal covering 33 albums from the days of Them onwards.

* Damhsa na Gealaí is Irish for Moondance

Belfast Telegraph

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