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Monday 23 April 2018

Have I told you lately how I loved Van the Man's return?


Reclusive singer Van Morrison emerged from the Dalkey mansion he shares with his wife Michelle to headline his friend Vince Power's Hop Farm Festival on Friday night.

It seemed that Van had gone to ground since that ridiculous baby story broke last December. So it was good to see him back on the road.

He flew in from Dublin on a private jet on Friday afternoon to a private airport with his long-time personal manager John Rogers. He went to a hotel and rehearsed with his band for the afternoon.

I had travelled to Kent on a hopeless mission: maybe I might get to talk to Van for a few words about life or Yeats -- or, maybe, why his wife is suing Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council over the trees and shrubbery between their home and neighbours.

The backstage area was sealed when Van arrived. No one in. No one out. It would have been easier to get President Obama on the phone for a chat.

From about 70 metres away I saw him arriving backstage, dressed in a white suit and a hat to match. Van, who is not exactly snake-hipped, looked like a West Belfast butcher on a stage weekend in his suit.

Spread out in front of him was a devoted and rustling horde of 25,000 fans. They all started to dance in unison as he burst into a soulful version of Brown-Eyed Girl. He played Have I Told You Lately That I Love You and the whole south east of England seemed to be dancing in ecstasy.

Van is Ireland's greatest ever singer -- and it showed amid the lush landscape and rolling fields. He played the sax and he moved about a little on the stage. Van doesn't do dance. Movement embarrasses him. Just as well. He then played a soft, serenely perfect version of And the Healing Has Begun. "I want you to put on your pretty summer dress,'' he sang, "You can wear your Easter bonnet and all the rest ... and I wanna make love to you, yes, yes, yes when the healing has begun."

I kept expecting to see a breathless Michelle prancing about the sunset-dappled hill in a billowing summer dress, silk ribbons in her hair, and her decolletage showing off bosoms as smooth as freshly plumped pillows.

Then the Belfast bard flung himself with great gusto and dash into Moondance. And yes, the moon deigned us with her presence as Van sang those beautiful words. And there were tens of thousands who agreed with Van that it was a marvellous night for a moondance, a fantabulous night to make romance.

Sunday Independent

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