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Sunshine chases blues away as 'The Man' ticks boxes for fans

The temperamental weather matched the artist at the first of Van Morrison's 70th birthday concerts on Belfast's Cyprus Avenue. As stage time approached, it was veering from sunny to torrential downpours and back again.

But once Morrison strode out at 3pm and launched into 'Celtic Swing', the elements were the last thing on anybody's mind. It was a treat to have 'The Man' back, even if every other Morrison gig these days seems to be a 'homecoming' of some sort.

Yet it never dims the public's enthusiasm, and as he enters his eighth decade, there may be a realisation that precious time is indeed slipping away. He didn't perform that track, but his 90-minute set was packed with hits and a few rarities.

'Moondance', 'Brown Eyed Girl' and 'Days Like This' ticked the boxes.

Meanwhile, 'Close Enough for Jazz' could have been an instruction to the drenched throng: "No use feeling sad / No use staying mad / Better when you're glad / You can be there in a heartbeat."

A highlight of the show was the appearance of PJ Proby and Chris Farlowe on tracks from Morrison's 'Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue' album.

Morrison delivered an epic 'And the Healing Has Begun' with the line "And we'll walk down the avenue again," eliciting cheers.

In typical fashion, Morrison did not play the song Cyprus Avenue, but he did name-check the street of his childhood adventures.

The encore was a transfixing version of 'In the Garden', and then the star disappeared, leaving his drummer to ask the audience their appreciation for "Van Morrison" - or as he swiftly corrected, "Sir Van Morrison".

Irish Independent