Van Morrison: Helsinki Kulttuuritalo

Van The Man still a tad on the miserable side, but hey, he rocks...

Who needs a big show? Show’s are for kids, aren’t they. And judging by the absence of anyone under forty in the audience, the art of Mr. Van Morrison is definitely for adults. The crowd gathered at the Kulttuuritalo could’ve been here when Van and the angry young Them played the same stage 35 years ago.

Backed by an eight-piece band, the sullen soulman himself barely speaks a word between the songs. He is obviously working, not singing out of sheer pleasure it gives him. His trade is schlager, his tool his voice. Why waste it to banal niceties? This time he doesen’t fire anyone onstage, he doesen’t even admonish the bass player. Angry old Van’s already fought enough for one tour. Rockabilly singer Linda Gail Lewis, with whom Van started the tour, packed her bags and split the entourage. Irreconcilable musical differences, we are told. Not even Van’s winning personality could make her stay.

So instead of a veteran ‘billy-a-go-go set, we get the good stuff. Basic Van, that is. Apart from a few rather dull jump blues pieces, The Man sings mostly more obscure songs from the later albums, couple of favourites like ‘Bright Side Of The Road’ and the obvious ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, and some magnificent R&B standards. His version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘Help Me’, with a mindblowing hammond-solo, is so stunning, so soulful, and so energetic, that it makes all the drab dad rockers a la OCS look like the soulless Traffic-clones they are. This is real modrock, ladies and gentlemen.

Otto Talvio