Thursday, February 19, 2015

The granddaddy of all Van gigs

When it comes to staging landmark concerts, Van Morrison continues to top himself. In the fall of 2013, after being presented the Freedom of Belfast Award, the Irishman held a free concert at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. Last summer, he did three shows at his former secondary school, Orangefield High School (including one for ex-staff and students). Now comes the granddaddy of all Van gigs: a birthday performance on Cyprus Avenue, the East Belfast thoroughfare he immortalized on Astral Weeks.

The concert will take place Aug. 31, the day Morrison turns 70, and will be part of the annual EastSide Arts Festival. A stage will be erected at the bottom end of Cyprus Avenue, near the street's junction with Beersbridge Road. The crowd will gather in a space between the stage and Sunbury Avenue. Attendance has been capped at 1,500.

I reached out to Maurice Kinkead, chief executive of the East Belfast Partnership, the organization that oversees EastSide Arts. He promised to answer my questions and provide more information on an event that is quite possibly Morrison's most anticipated Belfast gig since his 1979 Whitla Hall shows, which ended his self-imposed, 12-year exile from the city. Stay tuned for more details ...

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