After the furore around The Phoenix Park gigs earlier in the summer, it’s littler brother, Marley Park, seemed to learn from his elders mistakes as this set of gigs went without much of a hitch. Even Mr.Guetta and his deluded masses behaved themselves the night before in preparation for the eventual pinnacle of the Marley Park gigs. From a man who is famous for pressing play and jumping around behind his unplugged decks, to two colossal names in the music industry. Both Tom and Van have been there, bought, worn and sold many t-shirts, even picking up a few pair of knickers along the way – here’s looking at you Tom.
The park was holding up well as the rain and footfall from earlier gigs had obviously taken its toll. Not to fear as the “Van The Man” gran’s had brought their deck chairs out to play, all ready for that trip down memory lane for the Sex Bomb himself to take stage. Tom Jones came strutting on to the stage with the same old sparkle in his eye as he did 30 years ago. What’s New Pussycat was the first song to get everyone out of their camping chairs, albeit slowly, in order to bop around. Green Green Grass of Home gave the crowd its first taste of choral musings as Tom expertly led them on a merry sing along. You have to take this kind of thing with a pinch of salt, let your guard down and allow the master that is Tom Jones to entertain you. The man is old enough to recall a world full of black and white before God himself updated our software to that of colour.
He unleashes Sex Bomb upon the unsuspecting onlookers. His hip thrusts and pelvis shakes are still impressive to say the least. It’s Not Unusual was to round off the set, a song that catapulted Tom into the mainstream all those years ago. During this song, a younger woman remarked to her friend: “How do you know that one”, to which the friend replied – “ah, me Ma does be playing it”. Understandably the case for many attendees as Tom’s career spans the best part of a half century. Despite the preconceived notions from the crowd, Jones’ set was a masterpiece in entertainment. Friendly chat coupled with humorous quips filled his interaction with the crowd. A true pro in every sense of the word.
Van’s stage set-up as usual consisted of every band member within arms reach of each other, as was the case at The O2 earlier in the year. Not only do they line out in a close-knit fashion, the backing band are renowned for being one of the tightest bands around – No wonder when Mr.Morrirson is cracking the whip. Van Morrison is famous for his concerts, some people adore the professionalism while others bemoan the lack of showmanship. As long you understand this, you’ll not be disappointed.
Van Morrison began with a bang as he played Brown Eyed Girl. A surprise to many to hear this so early on. From the very outset, this gig was to shine with musical mastery. Van Morrison’s voice, just about as good as it used to be, carries the song as he provides his trademark jazz ‘bee-bops’. Baby Please Don’t Go serves up the first in a line of extended jazz/blues versions of his much-loved back catalogue. Van acting as maestro, taps and nods along as his exceptional band flutter and excel in every aspect. Once in a while during a song, Van will point to a certain section who had better be ready or risk a glare from the legendary Northern Irishman.
Six songs in and Van mumbles his first words of the night, an almost reluctant “Thank You” is then provided. Days Like This comes before a welcome cover of the Little Willie John classic Fever. In recent years, acts such as Beyoncé and Madonna have tackled this Rhythm and Blues mammoth with mass production and vocal acrobatics. Van in his inimitable fashion, takes it down a notch with a tempo that lures you in. If Van was ever concerned about being sexy, this would be about his best shot as he toys and plays with the songs lyrics.
From the high of Fever to the unexpected and disappointing low of Moondance. A fervent favourite for most in attendance, would see a drawn out, drab and boring lounge version of the song. The crowd quite clearly become disillusioned with the seemingly endless and looping bars. The same lady as earlier now remarks “ahhh jaysizzz” to her friends to an inevitable line of nods.
Luckily enough, just before a mass yawn, Van kicks into Have I Told You Lately. A different vibe fills the air as the crowd rejoice in the Van they all know and love. He gives the same unedited treatment to Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile) which would prove to be the biggest and last big hit of the night.
A night of varying styles and approach. From Tom Jones assault of the personality to the dreary yet wonderful musicianship of Morrison. Morrison would mutter only 22 words the whole gig while Tom Jones, if given the opportunity, would have no doubt sat down for a cuppa’ and had the chats. Two utterly different artists and sets, although the outcome was the same – pure and utter class.
Van Morrison & Tom Jones Photo Gallery
Photos: Owen Humphreys
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