Waiting For The Van
I got a little excited on the radio yesterday morning. I had been invited onto Good Morning Ulster to talk about the Van Morrison gig at Aircraft Park, September 8. They wanted to know if there was a significance in his return to east Belfast, the place that had nurtured him and the inspiring landscape for so many songs. So I said it was like a salmon returning to the spawning ground, that he was literally bringing it all back home. Then I was asked if the ticket price was good value. Absolutely, I answered. You're playing to see a legend in his natural habitat. The fact that this was the very first East Belfast Arts Festival was also a bonus for some of us.
Van's setlist is currently featuring the likes of 'Ballerina' and 'Little Village'. The latter isn't particularly well known, but to my ears, it's a sweet meditation about Bloomfield and Ballyhackamore, about the sensibilities of a baby boomer who grew up with a parochial sense of place, before the city spaces filled up and the differences became less marked. And if there's anything I expect from tonight's gig, then it's a glimmer of that world, the portrait of a young Van and the days before rock and roll.