Woburn Live: Van Morrison review
The beautiful surroundings of Woburn Abbey made a perfect backdrop for a memorable concert by the Irish music legend Van Morrison.
It was the opening night of a new three day festival, Woburn Live, in the grounds of the stately home in Bedfordshire.
The stage was set up in front of the striking mansion which has been a family home since the 17th century. Most of the audience were seated in what was a fairly intimate venue.
The Irishman took to the stage with the distinctive saxophone strains which open the classic, ‘Did Ye Get Healed.’
With four decades of songs to choose from, the audience greeted every piece with cheers and claps of recognition. Even though some of the old favourites like, ‘Have I Told You Lately That I Love You,’ was given a much more up-beat treatment, many of his songs were performed exactly as you would expect.
His voice is as distinctive and powerful as ever and the backing band were hugely talented. A man of Van’s status clearly has the pick of the crop!
The audience started out fairly restrained, which seemed in keeping with the venue. There was a bit of jigging and swaying in the seats to the classics. But when the timeless and much-covered 'Gloria' struck up, there was a general rush for the front with dancing in the aisles and on chairs.
Van characteristically didn’t feel the need to talk about the songs or enter into inane conversation with the audience, as some performers do. He merely introduced the members of the band and let his music do the rest of the talking. For me the climax of the night was his storming rendition of ‘Brown Eyed Girl’.
The organisers of Woburn Live, the first open air festival of its type, must have been anxiously watching the weather forecast, given the summer we’ve been having. But the rain stayed away and we were treated to a lovely sunset behind the historic buildings.
For most of the audience the evening started with a picnic in the grounds of the house, sampling the complementary ice cream from the main sponsors, before settling into their seats for the performance.
The facilities were great, enough toilets for both sexes; good car parking facilities, although I was slightly worried that the field was very soggy underfoot. We had visions of being towed out by tractor, but in the end it all ran smoothly and the traffic got away without too much hassle at the end of the evening.
In all a memorable summer’s evening and one to be recommended if the event’s held again.
last updated: 30/07/07
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