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The Metropolitan Spirit

Van Morrison at Louis Armstrong House before October 9, 2016 concert at Forest Hills.           Van Morrison at Fillmore East in New York in 1970.

Concert Review: Van Morrison at Forest Hills

October 9, 2016

QUEENS, NY - After stopping by the historic Louis Armstrong House in Corona to pay tribute to one of his great influences, Van Morrison and his brilliant band took to the stage promptly at 8 pm on a beautiful chilly night at the lovely if rickety old tennis stadium at Forest Hills and laid claim to the mantle critic Lester Bangs assigned him forty years ago as the greatest Rock & Roll artist of all time.

Morrison is almost certainly the best musician among the British Invasion legends and for the next hour and forty minutes he drew from his peerless catalogue of folk, blues, spiritual, and jazz infused rock songs to enchant the audience with a tour through the decades from his hits in the 60’s with his British Invasion band, Them, to several tunes from his brand new album, Keep Me Singing.

The sound of the new album progresses from his previous well-received release, Born to Sing, No Plan B, but Keep Me Singing is an even happier collection of melodies with high spirit.

At 71, Van Morrison still mesmerizes his audience by going places with his ageless voice that even his contemporary Mick Jagger can’t reach with his impressive prancing up and down the catwalk.

Drawing no songs from either his most popular album Moondance nor from Bangs’ beloved Astral Weeks, Morrison still delighted the crowd with a night of musical gems ranging from his Them song, “Here Come’s the Night,” to an inspired re-working of “Brown Eyed Girl” to one of his most moving spiritual tunes, “In the Garden.”

He played the saxophone, sang a jazz duet with his daughter Shana, closed the fantabulous night with a rollicking rendition of his 1964 hit “Gloria,” and when his song was sung he abruptly walked off the stage in his signature style as the band played on for another ten minutes.

Van Morrison never returned to the stage. Maybe he’ll come back next year. What more could we ask for?

— Frank Alagno
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