Column

Best I've Ever Seen

Talking with artists about concerts they'll never forget

Gary Stoller is an award-winning editor, author, and journalist. He's written for USA TODAY and loves Bob Dylan and Blue Rodeo.

Best I've Ever Seen

Talking with artists about concerts they'll never forget

Gary Stoller is an award-winning editor, author, and journalist. He's written for USA TODAY and loves Bob Dylan and Blue Rodeo.

My Turn: Van Morrison and Creedence Clearwater Revival

I have given up on seeing Sir Ivan live. In the UK he now virtually confines himself to exclusive venues which cost hundreds of pounds to get in. I have never ever seen him do an encore or interact with the audience. You could set your watch to the exact minute of  a  non-stop 90 minute set. He would  then be whisked away in his private limo to his hotel without even acknowledging fans presence. A great singer  and musician, always with top class band support, but without doubt his reputation as the most curmudgeonly performer is totally justified..

 

I too can no longer afford to see Van the man or should I say the Holy Spirit for in my holy trinity of popular music I consider Dylan the Father, Neil Young the Son and Van Morrison the Holy Spirit. But I saw him various times in the 70s and those shows ran the gamut from ecstatic to erratic. The worst was at Winterland in San Francisco when he wouldn't even sing. The whole concert he played guitar on instrumental versions of his songs with his back to the audience. After awhile and especially towards the end people started booing. He finally condescended to sing a couple of songs and his voice was fine so his muteness wasn't due to laryngitis or something but just his eccentric behavior. But I still love the guy no matter his behavior.

Hi Dennis, have to agree with regarding the Holy Spirit, although just behind those three I would have to also list Joni Mitchell, The Band and The Grateful Dead. Did you see the '73 Tour mentioned in the article, with The Caledonian Soul Orchestra? One of my biggest regrets was not seeing them when they played two nights at London's Rainbow Theatre as part of that tour, and ofcourse, segments of those shows made it onto the "It's Too Late T o Stop Now" live album. (I've still got the original Warner Bros USA Import of that album, complete with triple gatefold sleeve). 

No Steve, I missed seeing his Caledonian Soul Orchestra, much to my chagrin. However one of the best concerts I ever saw was a totally unplanned one seeing Van in a small San Francisco club in the 70s. We were in the city for some reason and decided to drop in on a friend who lived there. When going to his apartment we noticed a nightclub venue across the street from him advertising Van Morrison playing that evening. We asked the ticket booth if there were any available tickets and to our amazement there were. So we went that night and saw a wonderful show in an intimate setting and totally unplanned. I have no idea why he was playing in such a small venue for he was usually booked into large concert halls at that time but he had a full band and was terrific. The only sour note was when he sang a song which talked about packing his bags and he went into an adlib about what he was packing and someone yelled out, "Don't forget your drugs!" and he stopped the song and lectured the person about how hip he must feel but that he was actually a loser...etc. etc. and then continued where he left off.