Belfast Telegraph

Van Morrison still the man as he wows Belfast Botanic audience

Van Morrison, Botanic Gardens

Favourite: Van Morrison
Favourite: Van Morrison
Sarah Tulloch

By Sarah Tulloch

Music legend Sir Van Morrison wowed at a sell-out gig last night in picturesque Botanic Gardens.

Thousands of music fans descended on the Belfast venue as Morrison stopped off in his home city on his busy touring schedule.

The Grammy Award-winner and Irish four-piece Picture This opened Live at Botanic Gardens, Belfast's newest outdoor festival.

Donning his signature trilby hat and sunglasses and wearing a black suit with sparkly pinstripes, Morrison barely acknowledged the crowd, except for mumbling a few words of thanks.

However, patrons were still full of adoration for the 73-year-old who sang alongside his talented band.

His pitch-perfect vocals were a treat for fans who went mad for his moments jamming solo on the harmonica, saxophone and guitar.

There was no distraction from flashy lights or fancy visuals - a Van Morrison show is all about the music.

The set, just shy of two hours long, was filled with "old chestnuts", as Morrison called them, like Have I Told You Lately and Moon Dance, as well as tracks from his latest album, The Prophet Speaks, which was released in December.

But the east Belfast man saved most of his crowd-pleasers for the encore when he blew fans' minds with favourites Brown Eyed Girl, Gloria and Star Of The County Down.

Residents of the nearby Holyland area will have had no doubt which music legend was performing just metres away from their homes as the crowd-turned-choir sang back in a deafening chorus, "Sha-la-la-la" and "G-L-O-R-I-A".

One thing's for sure - Van's still the man.

Live At Botanic Gardens continues next weekend with Eighties pop legends Bros and Summer Celebration: A Night of Country Music, featuring Nathan Carter and Jessie Buckley.

Tickets for Bros and Summer Celebration are still available and can be purchased from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide and www.ticketmaster.ie.

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