IRISH luminaries Van Morrison and Chris De Burgh are heading to York Barbican in 2021.
Northern Irishman Morrison, 75, will play two nights, May 25 and 26, and Southern Irishman De Burgh, 72, is booked in for October 15.
Tickets for both concerts will go on sale at 9am on Friday (11/12/2020) at yorkbarbican.co.uk, as well as at ticketline.co.uk and on 0844 888 9991 for De Burgh.
Born in Pottinger, Belfast, in 1945, Van Morrison – or Sir George Ivan Morrison OBE, as a formal envelope would now read – was inspired early in life by his shipyard worker father’s collection of blues, country and gospel records.
Feeding off Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and Muddy Waters in particular, Morrison became a travelling musician at 13, performing in several bands before forming Them in 1964.
Making their name at Belfast’s Maritime Club, Them soon established Morrison as a major force in the British R&B scene, initially with Here Comes The Night and Gloria, still his staple concert-closing number.
Brown Eyed Girl and the November 1968 album Astral Weeks announced a solo song-writing spirit still going strong, as testified latterly by a burst of five albums in three years. In 2017, he released Roll With The Punches and Versatile; in 2018, You’re Driving Me Crazy, with Joey DeFrancesco, and The Prophet Speaks; last year, Three Chords & The Truth, his 41st studio set, no less.
Over the years, Morrison has accumulated a knighthood; a BRIT; an OBE; an Ivor Novello award; six Grammys; honorary doctorates from Queen’s University, Belfast, and the University of Ulster; entry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the French Ordres Des Artes Et Des Lettres…and a number 20 hit duet with Cliff Richard in 1989, Whenever God Shines His Light.
This year, Morrison has said – and sung – his two penneth on Coronavirus, “crooked facts” and “pseudo-science”. In August, he called for “fellow singers, musicians, writers, producers, promoters and others in the industry to fight with me on this. Come forward, stand up, fight the pseudo-science and speak up”.
Ironically, a quick-thinking company promptly launched a set of face masks of iconic Morrison album covers.
From September 25, Morrison launched a series of three protest songs, one every two weeks, railing against safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19: Born To Be Free, As I Walked Out and No More Lockdown.
“No more lockdown / No more government overreach / No more fascist bullies / Disturbing our peace …,” he urged on the latter.
“No more taking of our freedom / And our God-given rights / Pretending it’s for our safety / When it’s really to enslave …”
Not without irony, that song condemned “celebrities telling us what we’re supposed to feel”. Issuing an explanatory statement amid condemnation from voices in Irish authority, he said: “I’m not telling people what to do or think. The government is doing a great job of that already. It’s about freedom of choice. I believe people should have the right to think for themselves.”
In September, he announced a series of socially distanced concerts, again with a covering note: “This is not a sign of compliance or acceptance of the current state of affairs,” it read. “This is to get my band up and running and out of the doldrums.”
Plenty of “re-scheduled” shows are in the diary, in London this Friday and Saturday, Belfast over the New Year celebrations, followed by four nights at the London Palladium in mid-April.
Not long afterwards comes the brace of York Barbican gig : an umpteenth return to a venue where he has performed in his predictably unpredictable, sometimes gruff, sometimes prickly, yet oft-times sublimely soulful manner on myriad mystical nights.
Chris De Burgh – born Christopher John Davison in Venado Tuerto, Argentina and raised in County Wexford, southern Ireland – last visited York Barbican on his Classics Albums Tour in October 2019.
That night, the focus fell on 1986’s Into The Light and 2010’s Moonfleet & Other Stories. Next autumn, Chris De Burgh & Band will be undertaking the eight-date UK tour, The Legend Of Robin Hood & Other Hits, in support of the upcoming album, The Legend Of Robin Hood, whose release date is yet to be affirmed.
De Burgh has co-written a musical too, Robin Hood, to be premiered in Fulda, Germany, in 2021. Expect both new material and greatest hits, Lady In Red et al from a 45-year recording career stretching back to Spanish Train And Other Stories, when he plays the only Yorkshire concert of next October’s itinerary.