|Teena Lyle, Tony Fitzgibbon, Dana Masters, Paul Moran, Mez Clough, Van, Paul Moore, Jay Berliner, Dave Keary.|
It was Saturday morning somewhere in North Wales and I had just woken up, all bleary eyed and goopy and the events of the previous night came back to me. What an incredible night it had been. Then I thought to myself, “Oh no, I’ve got to do it all over again”. I knew I gotta go, on that train up to Liverpool. I made the supreme effort to get out of bed and sat on the balcony watching the boats go by and contemplating the day ahead. After breakfast I found there were no taxis available for an hour, so I decided to walk into Chirk. I soon realised that was a mistake because it was already hotter than Mojave. Luckily for me a bus came along, and I used my old gits senior bus pass to get me to town where I caught the 11.48 train to Liverpool Lime Street changing trains at Chester.
When I emerged from the station I had no idea how to get to my hotel, so I asked passers by. They were all helpful and friendly and pointed me in the right direction. I like the people of Liverpool, everyone I met was chatty and hospitable. I wish people in some other places were like the Liverpudlians. I was too early to check into my hotel so left my bag with them and went for a wander. Just around the corner on Hope Street I found the famous Philharmonic Pub. This was recently featured in a video with Paul McCartney & James Cordon which you may have seen. It is a pub well worth visiting if you ever go to Liverpool. The interior is all preserved from about 100 years ago and even the toilets have marble and stained glass. I had a couple of pints of cider and returned to the hotel at 3.00. I watched the first half of England v Sweden in my room and then got a taxi to the Pier Head where the Festival was being held.
The festival was called the Liverpool Feis and was a celebration of Irish music organised by the great Vince Power. With 75% of the population of Liverpool being of Irish descent you can imagine the audience. They were good natured and boisterous and having a great party. They were also mainly a helluva lot younger than most audiences I have seen recently. When I arrived, I watched some of a band on stage 2 and then went to the main stage to see The Chieftains. The whole schedule was running a bit late. I hadn’t seen The Chieftains since Glastonbury 1982 and I only recognised three of them, Paddy, Matt and Kevin. They were great though and had guest singers, choirs and dancers. They performed a stunning version of Shenandoah which I really enjoyed. I had to go to the bar then where I had arranged to meet some friends.
|Me, Daria, Dana, James, Michelle, Maurice, Stuart, Filippo, Othmar.|
Before long, along came Othmar, Daria, Dana & Filippo who I had seen the night before. I hadn’t met James Tennant & his wife before, so Othmar introduced me to them which was nice. Then who should come along but Stuart & Michelle who had jetted in from San Diego. I first met them on a freezing night in Nottingham about 12 years ago and it is always great to see them again. They were with Maurice from Belfast who organised the historic concerts on Cyprus Avenue to celebrate Van’s 70th birthday. I can’t believe it is nearly three years already since that unforgettable day. The Van fans will always be grateful to Maurice for that. While we were chatting, The Hothouse Flowers were performing but I didn’t pay much attention I’m afraid. I was too busy catching up with my mates. Maurice, Michelle & Stuart were in the VIP area and Stuart said he would get me a drink from there because there was no queue.
|Teena Lyle, Me.|
While I was waiting for Stuart to re-emerge I spotted Van’s percussionist Teena Lyle who was waiting to meet up with Fumiko. I introduced myself to Teena and along came Fumiko, Miquel and his daughter arrived and then Stuart. We all stood around talking for a few minutes and taking photos with Teena until she had to go backstage again. Stu went back to the VIP area and we arranged to meet up after Van. Foy Vance was on next and I have heard great reports of him, but I wanted a sit down in some shade because I was knackered and too hot. Van was due on stage at 8.00 but everything was running very late now. “This will make him really grumpy if he has to go on late”, I thought to myself. I was in the queue for another drink when Fumiko came up and said, “Van is on in 5 minutes, he has changed places with Imelda May”.
|Paul Moran Teena Lyle, Tony Fitzgibbon.|
By the time I got my drink Van had already started his performance. This is his setlist at Liverpool- Astral Weeks, The Way Young Lovers Do, Sweet Thing, Thanks For The Information, Foreign Window, One Irish Rover, Broken Record, Have I told you lately, I Can’t Stop Loving You, Moondance, Wild Night, Jackie Wilson Said, Baby Please Don’t Go/ Got My Mojo Working, Help Me, Brown Eyed Girl. The performance was shorter than Llangollen with a few different songs, but I still really enjoyed it. To start with I was right at the back, but I gradually wheedled my way forward until I got to the barrier at the front.
It was great to find Treve Walsh who I have known since Van played at the O2 Arena in London with Tom Jones a few years ago. I also spotted Fumiko who had also managed to get to the front. As I got nearer to the front it got noisier and noisier with people chattering and singing along. In a concert hall this would be annoying and unacceptable but when you buy a ticket for an event like this you should know what to expect so you can’t really complain. The young audience seemed to really enjoy it and hopefully some of them might buy a Van album and get into the music. I took a few photos and used up the last of the memory in my camera filming I Can’t Stop Loving You. Sorry it ends so abruptly.
After Van’s show I met up with Stuart, Treve & Fumiko by a statue. Imelda May began her show, but I was too tired by now and after seeing Van everything else always seems a bit flat to me. I said goodbye to Stuart and Treve and hoped to meet up again soon. Then I walked to the taxi rank with Fumiko where I said cheerio and set off to walk to my hotel. After a long walk I recognised the Philharmonic pub that I was in earlier and chilled out with another couple of pints before calling it a day.
Next morning, I walked to the station and began the long journey home. Back to the forlorn rags of everyday life, Brexit, Trump, and all the rest of the bollix…But wait…… There is hope, I’m going to see Van again in October. See you In Torquay Van fans.