Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Video: Van Morrison emerged from seclusion to sing with The Band at their Last Waltz

The Band somehow talked Van Morrison out of his curmudgeonly retirement to play with them at their November 1976 farewell, The Last Waltz. And play he did. This was an all-star show, but Van Morrison blew the doors off the concert hall. He may have been performing for the first time in years, but he owned the stage, and according to people who attended this last, great Band show at Winterland, he turned the show around with a spirited performance and set the stage for the great acts to follow.

According to the Wikipedia, Morrison considered skipping his appearance right up until the last minute, even refusing to go on stage when his name was called. His manager, Harvey Goldsmith, said he "literally kicked him out there." The Band, his old neighbours in Woodstock, even had a shared experience of stage-fright.

At the concert, Van performed two songs, one of them being this version of "Caravan", from his 1970 album Moondance. Greil Marcus wrote that "Van Morrison turned the show around...singing to the rafters and ...burning holes in the floor. It was a triumph, and as the song ended Van began to kick his leg into the air out of sheer exuberance and he kicked his way right offstage like a rocket. The crowd had given him a fine welcome and they cheered wildly when he left."

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