The singer with attracted an energetic, older crowd but also younger faces
Van the Man fans packed the Santa Barbara Bowl Saturday to see the Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, who at 74 years old showed that with age comes a quiet yet persistent force of energy.
Saturday’s audience also understood this aspect about age.
Most of Mr. Morrison’s crowd Saturday seemed to have followed the singer’s decades-long career since he broke into the international music scene in the 1960s. Several elder members of the crowd whooped with joy when a song that they cherished came on. Meanwhile, the younger ones in the crowd talked loudly, generating “shhhs” and “be quiets” from other members of the audience.
Young or old, Mr. Morrison’s fans united to sing along to the words (or at least the “Sha La La” portions) of the hit “Brown Eyed Girl.” They all stood up, danced and swayed to the hit song that chronicles a romance between a brown-eyed girl and the protagonist. Mr. Morrison and his band saved “Brown Eyed Girl” until the final moments of the show, but it was not the only song to get folks up and dancing.
The other song that had people up from their seats was “Moondance,” a love letter from the protagonist about how “it’s a marvelous night for a moondance/ with the stars up above in your eyes/ a fantabulous night to make romance/ ‘neath the cover of October skies.” Mr. Morrison scatted the words of the songs, and a first-time listener would have been scrambling for the words. Couples who knew the songs, however, not only danced along to the lively beats but also scatted with Mr. Morrison.
Some pairs also felt the romance in the air with “I Just Want To Make Love To You.” Kisses were exchanged among the audience, but so were words. Mr. Morrison failed to capture the crowd’s attention during the slow, crooning song that even the elder fans were striking up conversations. However, all eyes and ears were on the stage during “Broken Record,” almost a third of which was Mr. Morrison singing as if he were a broken record. Saturday’s edition was accompanied by a band member performing scratch noises to complete the imitation of a broken record. The imitation seems to have worked because the audience let out laughs and giggles.
While jazz is one genre that Mr. Morrison works with (in addition to rock and folk,) Melody Gardot, the opener for Mr. Morrison’s show, seems to specialize in jazz. Ms. Gardot is a Philadelphia-native who now lives in Paris. Some of her French seeped into the night, as she would reply to her audience with “Merci.”
Saturday night, Ms. Gardot showed no signs of the accident that she went through about 15 years ago. At 19 years old, Ms. Gardot was hit by a SUV while riding a bicycle. The accident left her with major injuries, and she used music to heal and recover. Fast forward a decade and a half: Ms. Gardot was donning heels and captivating the Santa Barbara Bowl crowd from the stage.
She sang songs chosen from across her albums. When Ms. Gardot crooned “My One and Only Thrill,” a hush descended on the crowd. Even folks who had been talking loudly ceased their chatter, even if only for a second.
Ms. Gardot also lifted up her band members. Her saxophonist garnered applause from the audience after every solo during “Morning Sun.” The crowd also cheered for the cellist during “Who Will Comfort Me,” when Ms. Gardot requested that the crowd snapped along the beat with her. “Who Will Comfort Me” started out slow and mellow, but she and the band members built themselves up to a crescendo toward the end of the song.
Ms. Gardot will play in Miami from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, 2020. Mr. Morrison is also slated to return to the U.S. next year, performing in Las Vegas for five nights in January and February.