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Late, Late Night FDL: Rough God Goes Riding

Van Morrison – Rough God Goes Riding

The Belfast Cowboy let his hair down again…

At one point, the celebrated singer, composer and lyricist grabbed, of all things, a ukulele, pulled a stool up in front of a microphone stand and sat his compact, stocky frame down, announcing to the audience at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Newcastle (not far from his hometown of Belfast), “It’s comedy time again.”

“This is called ‘sit-down comedy’ — it was invented by Billy Connolly,” the 68-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer said, a broad grin appearing briefly on his ruddy, round face. “Just so you know I’m legitimate, Billy Connolly says I’m very funny. I’m not going to argue with that.”

It was a rare — for Morrison especially — moment of onstage levity, the kind of revealing drop of his guard that few outside an inner circle of close associates ever get to witness.

This was why those looking on had forked over close to $400 a ticket to see Morrison in such an intimate setting. About a quarter of the fans crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the U.S., while another sizable portion came from across Europe for the chance to see the artist sometimes referred to as the Belfast Cowboy virtually in his own back yard, said Howard Hastings, managing director of Hastings Hotels. {…}

But Morrison in recent years has adopted it as his home field performance space of choice, using it to prepare for other tour dates or just to comfortably play for local fans. “He likes it because it feels like the blues clubs he started out in,” Hastings said.

Morrison has long been one of pop music’s most cherished figures, an artist prized for decades by fans, critics and his fellow Rock Hall of Famers including — but hardly limited to — Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and U2.

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