Hey, where did we go?
Days when the rains came?
Down in the hollow
Playing a new game?
Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl.l
We’d met straight from work.
Tapas and cocktails at the Blythswood Hotel.
I’d been feeling excited all day, I was really looking forward to this evening. I hadn’t saw Van Morrison live before. There had probably been opportunities but he wasn’t Andy’s or Lynn’s taste so the tickets were never booked.
Of course that was then, this is now.
This is a completely new game.
A new relationship and all the old rules change as new rules are created.
It has to be said that we’re still in the honeymoon phase. All I did was mention that I’d had an email saying that Van Morrison was playing and he booked the tickets.
That was a few months ago, back in our very early days. I like that about him, he’s easy going, but spontaneous and if he wants to do something he goes for it and he doesn’t mind how much it costs.
He says life is about having fun, not counting pennies.
I think we’ve both been very fortunate in our careers and life choices. Even if life hasn’t turned out the way we planned. We’ve both landed relatively lucky.
But then, we both believe that we make our own luck.
If you want to win the lottery then you have to buy a ticket and for both of us starting off in separate humble beginnings, education and hard work has brought its rewards.
I was working from home today, the boys finish school early on a Friday and mum was coming through to watch them later. The only downside was that I had to be home before the kids woke up.
A bit of a spoiler on a good nights fun really, But Mum isn’t too good at getting up early in the mornings and doesn’t feel comfortable driving on roads she’s not sure of. So the compromise was that she’d watch the kids for the evening as long as I was home to do the football run in the morning.
Sometimes you just need to take the deal on offer and make the best of it.
There was another little issue though. A bigger spoiler to the fun that I had been looking forward to. Unfortunately there wasn’t very much that I could do about it.
Sometimes Mother Nature just lets you know that she’s the boss!
I’d sent him a text about it earlier “Hi honey, looking fwd to seeing Van later, looking fwd to seeing you too! But I have a wee problem, ToM has arrived today, but don’t worry I have an alternative!! X”.
He obviously wasn’t too busy today as he replied quickly “That’s a shame babe, but don’t worry about it, I’m sure the alternative will be fantastic! J Looking forward to seeing you too. I’ll get you at The Blythswood at 5. x”
The Blythswood Hotel, oozed opulence and an almost decadent class from its modern crystal lighting to its fetish-like red velour booths which wouldn’t look too far astray in a Ditta Von Tess video.
This refurbishment of the old RAC Club is a new addition to Glasgow growing list of upmarket hotels. I think the popular posh term is “Reassuringly Expensive”. Paying over the odds just to keep the riff-raff out.
What the city fathers would like you to forget is that this area was notoriously famous as Glasgow’s red-light district. Where the local street-girls would hook up with their punters in the maze of lanes and alleys which criss-cross the area. There were lots of dark nooks and crannies to investigate those even darker places.
Now the hotel and the adjacent square are surrounded by lawyer’s offices and insurance companies. Some of the world’s biggest banks are just a few blocks away. Those deliberately nameless buildings full of people wearing grey business suits fitting into the corporate mould pretending that they care because that’s what they are expected to do. Tugging their forelocks and telling their bosses and HR what they want to hear because their bonus depends upon it. Who can blame them?
He works in one of these offices. He can see the hotel and a corner of the square from his desk on the 8th floor two blocks away. He is a freelance consultant for a bank, but says that he could never work on a staff basis as he doesn’t do politics. He says that he is happy to take the money but his attitude makes him unemployable. I can well believe that. He says that when he was a kid he would have been a punk but his mammy wouldn’t let him.
The hotel was quite busy when we arrived but there were no suits to be seen. Times are tough for everyone at the moment, even for the corporate suits and the Reassuringly Expensive.
It looked like there were lots of couples on dates on groups of girls on the spa weekends that the hotel advertises. We were there on a Groupon deal, half-price Tapas and a glass of Prosecco to get you in the door in the quieter moments.
The deal obviously works, as we followed on with a couple of rather expensive cocktails. Well they looked fantastic, far too good to resist and were mixed better than any other bar we had visited with the exception of Champagne Central. Two hours later and two cocktails for me and one for him, we’d had just enough to relax before strolling hand in hand down the half mile down Bath Street to the Royal Concert Hall.
The Concert Hall is one of Glasgow’s best venues, much smaller than the SEC but the acoustics and the seating arrangements are far superior. He’d booked his favourites seats again, the ones on the terrace off to the side stage, front row with a fantastic view and the bar only 20 yards behind you for the interval.
It has to be said, the concert could have been much better.
Van Morrison at his moody worst.
He had opened with the shortest version of Brown Eyed Girl possible.
It was a jazz version, not all that bad, but not that good either. It was really only enjoyed by the die-hards and the pretentious who would have applauded anything that the man cared to utter.
But it was self-indulgent and it killed the mood.
I had been really looking forward to hearing it too It’s one of my personal favourites and always gets my girlfriends and I up on the dancefloor.
“Do you remember when, we used to sing … Shalalalala ….”
But do you really know the words?
It has to be said he does mumble!
Personally, I get the gist, the basics and just mouth along to the rest, all that really matters is the beat and the chorus, hands up in the air and singing with my pals.
What really did impress me tonight is that Van is actually a superb musician, switching seamlessly between guitar, piano, sax, harmonica and back again. All this while singing and orchestrating the band at the same time.
I’m not really a big fan, I have his Greatest Hits and love quite a few of his songs, Moondance, Bright Side of The Road, Gloria, Have I told You Lately.
The only other song he played that I recognised was Gloria, a real rousing chorus which had the audience singing along. G-L-O-R-I-A … Glooooooriiiaaaa!
But a mere 90 minutes later he was gone, no goodbyes, no dialogue. He just walked off the stage leaving the band playing for another 10 minutes. Some jazzy upbeat number where the band took turns to play their solos and demonstrate how individually talented they are. No doubts that these guys were a the top of their game, but we hadn’t came to see them,
Thinking about it, Van hadn’t even acknowledged the audience so why would he say goodbye?
Personally I did say goodbye. I’d heard about his moods and although he is no doubt a wonderfully talented musician, I felt disappointed and his lack of dialogue was rude and unacceptable.
We had a good chat about it sitting in The Blue Dog afterwards and agreed that we wouldn’t be rushing back. He asked the pianist to play Moondance as it was my favourite Van song. It has to be said that he played and sang pretty well and seemed to be enjoying himself. Some people work harder than the real deal.
We sat there for another hour, I was drinking Mojito’s and him sticking to soft drinks as he had volunteered to drive me home later.
It was very relaxing, romantic even, sitting holding hands, kissing and teasing each other about the options ahead, Should we go dancing or head back to his, he wanted to know what those alternatives were?
It was fun keeping him guessing.
He really does have intensely blue eyes, a twinkle in them when he is telling a story or clear and disarming when he listens intently.
Of course he let me know that he was being a martyr driving for the evening.
I told him that I’d make it up to him somehow!