Astral Weeks Live At The Hollywood Bowl: The Concert Film (Amazon.com Exclusive)
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"Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl: The Concert Film is an in-concert reworking of the musical legend's historic 1968 gold-certified solo album. Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl: The Concert Film was recorded live over two nights at the Hollywood Bowl in November 2008.
Van Morrison first released Astral Weeks when he was only 22. The recording immediately became a critically-acclaimed classic and is still considered one of the greatest albums of the rock era. The fall 2008 shows marked the first time Mr. Morrison ever performed Astral Weeks in one complete concert set. Joining him was an orchestral string section and a band composed of world-class musicians, some of whom played with Van on the original Astral Weeks sessions 40 years ago. During the first half, the artist performed a number of the timeless classics he is famous for while the second half was an awe-inspiring performance of the Astral Weeks album. Among the songs included on the concert DVD are: ""Astral Weeks/I Believe I've Transcended"", ""Beside You"", ""Slim Slow Slider/ I Start Breaking Down"", ""Sweet Thing"",""The Way Young Lovers Do"", ""Cyprus Avenue / You Came Walking Down"", ""Ballerina"", and ""Madame George.""
""The Hollywood Bowl concerts gave me a welcome opportunity to perform these songs the way I originally intended them to be"", says Mr. Morrison, who amazingly held only one rehearsal prior to the concerts.
To rework Astral Weeks, Mr. Morrison added his signature stretching of songs in a manner unlike any before by creating new sections of songs live on stage.
Unbeknownst to Mr. Morrison at the time he planned the Hollywood Bowl shows, the concerts coincided exactly with the 40th anniversary of the release of Astral Weeks. He took it as a sign this project was destined to be. Astral Weeks broke new ground with its experimental free-flowing arrangements and deeply reflective songs. Mr. Morrison's motivation to rework the music was to get back to his original signature sound: a blend of jazz, blues, classical and folk unique to Van Morrison."
“I believe I’ve transcended,” Van Morrison sings in an extended, in-the-moment riff towards the end of the title track from his recent live album, Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl. Few would beg to differ, for over the course of this historic concert, Morrison seems to transcend age, time and whatever other affects turn some veteran performers into wan caricatures of their former selves better suited to halls of fame than halls of music. Now, for those who couldn’t be there to go “into the music” under that star-filled Los Angeles sky, Morrison has released a concert film—his first since 1990’s Van Morrison: The Concert—that documents the soulful evening measure for remarkable measure.
“It was an alchemical kind of situation,” Morrison has said of the 1968 New York recording sessions that yielded the original Astral Weeks, which, although poorly promoted by Warner Brothers upon its release, now regularly places at the top of critic and reader surveys of the greatest albums of all time. Forty years later, a similar alchemy prevails as Morrison and another group of musicians—some old, some new—come together for Astral Weeks:The Concert Film. Never one to repeat himself or rest on his laurels, Morrison doesn’t merely perform his classic album from cover to cover. He re-imagines it from the ground up, from a reshuffled track list and new orchestrations to a dramatically expanded “Slim Slow Slider,” transformed from a plaintive, three-minute album closer into a wailing, heart-wrenching eight-minute centerpiece. Throughout, from the first pluckings of “Astral Weeks’”s pizzicato bass line to “Madame George’”s stirring invocation to “get on the train,” Morrison stands center stage, singing, grunting, speaking in tongues, strumming his guitar and blowing his harmonica with such passion and vigor that it really is as though he is playing these songs for the very first time. To be born again, indeed.
“For me, it’s about going back to the source,” Morrison has said, and thanks to Astral Weeks: The Concert Film audiences can take that journey with him—back to the beginnings of an extraordinary five-decade solo career that has produced more than 30 albums, hundreds of songs and a worldwide popularity that continues to grow with each passing year. Thirty-five years after setting the gold standard for live recordings with the seminal It’s Too Late To Stop Now, with Astral Weeks: The Concert Film Van Morrison once again surpasses himself. --Scott Foundas
Top customer reviews
Morrison seems to bring out the best or the worst in the reviewers.The music was recorded well or it wasn't. The videography was transparent or it was scintillating. Van was on his game or he wasn't. No middle ground!
As for me, I only expected to see him perform these great tunes from Astral Weeks and I wasn't disappointed at all. In short, he delivered the goods.
Van (being interviewed) is cordial with a thick Irish brogue that one never hears when he is singing. And what a voice....mellowed like fine brandy with an occasional "aargh" thrown in for good measure.
The band is superb especially the fellow on bari sax, flute and soprano sax who is able to match the mimicry of Van with his instrument on "Common One."
Morrison plays mouth harp, acoustic and electric guitar and piano with verve and a bluesy/jazzy feel. The violins are fantastic but it is the rock solid bass of David Hayes that is outstanding (both acoustic and electric bass)
In short, this is a terrific DVD showcasing the most talented performer we have left since the passing of Ray Charles. Van is indeed, the"man."
* What words complete the lyric, "Could you find me? Would you kiss my eyes? To lay me down in silence easy, to be ___ ___"?
* How old is the girl addressed in the song "Cyprus Avenue"?
* What does the singer of "Slim Slow Slider" know is happening to the subject of the song?
If you cannot answer at least two of those three questions, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and do not buy this DVD... go directly to Astral Weeks (Van Morrison, CD) and become familiar with one of the greatest albums of all time.
This is a charming concert, but it is not essential, and it will not make sense if you don't already know the album from which it comes. Van and his musicians riff on the original, but you have to know the material on which they are riffing before it can speak to you.
That said, if you already know and love Van Morrison and Astral Weeks, you will love this concert. The Man is having a lot of fun with some really great songs, and it's a joy to watch him enjoying them.