Throwback Thursday: Van Morrison, The Who, Fleetwood Mac

Music Features Van Morrison
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Throwback Thursday: Van Morrison, The Who, Fleetwood Mac

Every Thursday, we dig through the Paste Cloud archives to revisit some of our favorite old concert videos and audio. This week, we’ve got Van Morrison, The Who and Fleetwood Mac.

Van Morrison: Live in Belfast, 1979

On paper, the success and influence of Van Morrison just does not make sense. Besides the unusual amalgamation of jazz, rock, blues and Celtic music that makes Van Morrison so distinct, what’s more interesting is how large his reach was and still is today considering his eclectic music catalogue. Van Morrison went on to influence the likes of everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Ed Sheeran, even Patti Smith, whose cover of “Gloria” by Them, Morrison’s first band, acted as a catalyst for New York’s punk scene in the ‘70s. To say that Van Morrison shaped punk rock might be a bit of a stretch, but the claim certainly has it merit.

Archived footage from a Van Morrison show in his hometown of Belfast in 1979 encapsulates all that made both his music and his personality so enchanting. Van Morrison remained cool and collected over the 10-song set. Getting right into it all with “Moondance” as the first song, Morrison’s backing band is just as precise live as they are on record. Handclaps and beaming smiles all surround Morrison as he makes the most of what is around him. Hardly moving feet from the mic stand, Morrison still takes up the whole stage with his signature growls and scatting, delightfully losing himself in it all.

Though not by any definition a punk rocker, Morrison’s crowd could have fooled anyone. Before going into “Gloria,” the crowd was a sea of pogo dancing and fervent hands in the air as they all shouted the song’s enthralling chorus, “G-L-O-R-I-A!” It is moments like these when Van Morrison really struts his stuff, ad-libbing scatting and lyrics as if it were all already on recording. What makes Van Morrison such a influence on music is not in his perfection, but in his innate sense of precision. Van Morrison does what he needs to on stage to make the crowd go wild, and luckily enough, it comes naturally for him. - Kurt Suchman

The Who: Live at Tanglewood, 1970

On July 7, 1970, the legendary English rock outfit The Who rocketed onto stage at Tanglewood, a venue in the Berkshire hills of Western Massachusetts. Frontman Roger Daltrey is an immediate stage personality, gyrating around the platform with his Rococo tendrils and chest-baring blouse. The other members are just as stylistically tricked out, with guitarist Peter Townshend letting his legs spread akimbo in a white jumpsuit and John Entwistle soothing the bass in equally garish bell-bottoms.

To start us off, the group performs “Heaven and Hell” and the first single they ever released, “I Can’t Explain.” Daltrey’s vocals are gritty and emphatic as his body slithers along with the reverb-heavy rhythm. Towards the middle of the performance, the eccentric drummer of the band, Keith Moon, who Daltrey introduces as a “quiet English gentleman” delivers a monologue that eases into the tender introspection of “I Don’t Even Know Myself.” The band also covers Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues” before jumping into rock opera tracks like “Sparks” and “Christmas.”

For their unforgettable opening of the 1973 Quadrophenia tour, The Who take the stage at the Cow Palace in Daly City near San Francisco. They perform “My Generation,” the tune that is largely considered the punk-rock predecessor that captured the angst of an era. The band is known for its amphetamine-fueled antics, which were more often than not, driven by resident hell raiser Keith Moon. The Who’s rock regime is plagued with hefty hotel bills, the cherry-bombed porcelain of exploding toilets, televisions plunging into pools and equipment torn asunder. Moon was a regular Nero, merrily watching Rome burn from behind his drum set.

Here, the band plays the synthesizer staple, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” As Townshend windmills on his guitar and spirals into a power-chord rapture, we see Moon, who had just taken tranquilizers, lagging in the background. The percussion comes to a halt and he eventually passes out, but that doesn’t stop Townshend and Daltrey from giving it their all. As the interlude hushes, Daltrey lets out a final scream that is all at once primal and sublime. After being temporarily reawakened by a cortisone injection, as rock legend has it, Moon returns to the stage for “Magic Bus”. Things don’t seem too promising when Daltrey rips into the harmonica and we cut to an off-kilter Keith who is barely nodding along. As the song wraps up, we see him hovered prostrate on the kit as a group of roadies proceed to carry him off the stage.

The rest of the set features impromptu drummer, Scott Halpin, the 19-year-old who became the unsung hero of the night. After seeing that Moon is at a point of no return, Townshend appeals to the crowd, asking for a drummer who might help them complete the set. Halpin joins The Who for “See Me Feel Me,” Willie Dixon’s “Spoonfool,” and the closing track, “Naked Eye.” Daltrey lassos his mike, Townshend slams his guitar against his knee, and Halpin takes a bow before jittering off stage, arm-in-arm with The Who.

Fleetwood Mac: Live at Capitol Theatre, 1975

Fleetwood Mac is the British-American standout band that clambered up the rock pedestal, and well, never really left. None of us are planning to usher them off as old news either, and this week, we peer into the ‘70s shimmer of the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey. In 1975, two years prior to the release of the band’s monumental album, Rumors, Mac Fleetwood adopted Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham into the group, following the departure of the original guitarist, Bob Welch. With these new talents, Fleetwood Mac was suddenly at the cusp of a complete renovation, and this archived footage from the 1975 tour lets us experience the motions of a transitional period that would later lob the band into the mainstream ebb and flow.

The set begins with Christine McVie paddling at the keyboard for “Get Like You Used to Be.” Stevie Nicks, who has always been shrouded with gossamer and mysticism, emerges during the performance of her first hit, “Rhiannon.” She is draped in a glimmering white shawl and her voice is soft and wistful, making us wonder why she was ever accused of being a witch. Buckingham keeps his head down and plays the guitar feverishly, rarely prying his eyes away from the intense finger-picking of the strings. As the pace picks up with percussion frequencies and McVie’s keyboarding, Nicks closes her eyes and howls. In this moment, we find ourselves in awe of the sheer dynamism of her vocals and realize why Fleetwood Mac made it this big. After the last belt, which demonstrates her tremendous skill in pitch variation, Nicks collapses into herself—briefly monumentalized in her glory like an alabaster statuette.

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