May 9, 2015 – 5:11 am

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Paris 1991 [BARN166, 2CD]

Live at the Parc De L’Ile St Germain, Paris, France; July 3, 1991. Fairly to very good audience recording. A bit distant. Previously uncirculated.

Thanks to BARN/Scott Bernstein for sharing the show at Dime.

BARN noted:

Not only is this my favorite Van Morrison concert - I would still rate this as one of the best (of THOUSANDS) concerts I’ve ever attended, by any musician or band! Why? Well, let’s set the scene: How about being given the opportunity to see one of your favorite musicians outdoors in a general admission space in a park on a SPECTACULARLY beautiful summer day in the middle of Paris! I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to spend six weeks studying abroad in Paris in the summer of 1991 and, of course, got to take advantage of the music scene there (also squeezing in a Sting concert and the JVC Jazz Festival where in one day I got to see Pat Metheny Group, John Scofield, and Herbie Hancock all in separate performances).

For any listener who’s not a hardcore Van-o-phile, let me put this a bit into perspective - Van is and has never been the type of musician to come out and do a “greatest hits” type of show. He is a musician “following his muse” as he claims and, therefore, you’re going to a get a show consisting of whatever songs of his are moving him at that point in time.

Typically he focuses some portion of his setlist on his current album at the time of the show, and the rest will be songs from deeper in his catalog. Also note that he does not work from a pre-written setlist, instead calling out songs to his band on-the-fly. In practice, on a tour his shows don’t vary greatly, repeating maybe 75 per cent of the setlist from night to night (though not necessarily in the same order), but you never know what he’s going to pull out or what songs he might find the “magic” in on any particular night and stretch out on.

He’s also been a notoriously moody performer from night-to-night. This show is typical of the formula of his shows from the era - though we get surprisingly few cuts from his album Hymns To The Silence (which I LOVE) released earlier that year (”Some Peace Of Mind” and “All Saints Day”, both of which he seems to enjoy playing). We do get some choice cuts from two of his other recent albums of the time - a tight “Enlightenment”, “See Me Through”, and “Youth Of 1,000 Summers” (from 1990’s excellent Enlightenment) and “Whenever God Shines His Light”, a minor hit he had from his 1989 album Avalon Sunset.

The rest of the show is populated with only one song a casual fan might know (an uptempo, jazzy version of “Moondance”) and one other song someone who has a little depth of knowledge of his catalog might know - the classic “Sweet Thing” from his masterpiece “Astral Weeks” - here stretched to mythical proportions over nine minutes - including TWO wild harmonica solos by Van himself (and listen to how closely the band is paying attention to his as they respond to his harmonica licks!), a guitar solo, and a long improvisation vocal scat segment trading vocals with Georgie Fame (”When your motivation is right…”). This is really evidence of some of the MAGIC we’re talking about that can come about when Van finds his muse.

Other highlights include, early on, his cover of the classic 50’s rock & roll song “It’s All In The Game”, paired with his own “Make It Real One More Time” in which pays tribute to some of Van’s favorite singers, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Sam Cooke, James Brown, and Billy Stewart and breaks down into him imploring us to “meet me down by the pylons”; dropping quotes from Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me To Do” into a beautiful version of his own “See Me Through”; and then some strong performances which take us far and away the best part of the show - the last 30 minutes or so starting at “Northern Muse (Solid Ground)” through “When The Healing Has Begun”, and the best part of the night “Vanlose Stairway/Trans Euro Train” and “Summertime In England” (both of which have amazing improvisational vocal trade-offs between Van and other members of the band - “Trans Euro Train” where he sings about “Kilroy Was Here” and “Summertime In England” where he sings about the “Squealin’ Feeling”) - all magic.

You can hear Van grunt out the titles of the next song to the band members after the previous one ends, and they keep things loose enough that sometimes you can even hear him yell “bridge!” or a key change at various points, and the band always picks up on it.

Click here for the complete notes.

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Sony clip-on stereo mic clipped to front of painter’s cap > Sony D6 cassette (FOB dead center, on TDK-MA110 tape, Dolby C)
Cassette Transfer: Master cassette  > Nakamichi Dragon (Dolby C decode, auto azimuth adjust) > Sound Devices 722 (@24/96)
Mastering: Sony SoundForge 11 (EQ, volume normalization, resample to 44.1 with iZotope 64-Bit SRC set higher than “Highest Quality” setting w/anti-alias filter; 24 > 16 bit dither using iZotope MBIT+ Dither with Ultra noise shaping, High dither settings, clap/whistle/yell scrubbing)
Special guest EQ by Bill “The Genius” Mulvey

Sorry for the semi-abrupt fade out at the end of each cassette side - for Side A I stopped as soon as the song ended to flip the tape. For Side B, I quickly ejected and popped in a new tape in case Van did another encore, but alas he did not. I scrubbed out hundreds of individual loud (and sometimes constant) nearby claps plus I squelched a whole bunch of nearby piercingly loud shrieks, wails, yells and whistles.

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Please Do Not Hammer The Links. Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. The tracks should still be around. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Disc 1
Band warms up without Van
Track 101. tuning 0:42 (1.2MB)
Track 102. Big Brother * 3:41 (6.2MB)
Track 103. I Love The Life I Live * 3:31 (5.9MB)

Van joins the band
Track 104.  introducing Van 0:06 (184k)
Track 105. So Complicated 3:46 (6.3MB)
Track 106. Did Ye Get Healed 4:57 (8.3MB)
Track 107. It’s All In The Game/Make It Real One More Time 5:13 (8.8MB)
Track 108. The Youth of 1,000 Summers 4:02 (6.8MB)
Track 109. Enlightenment 3:06 (5.2MB)
Track 110. Whenever God Shines His Light 3:17 (5.5MB)
Track 111. Sweet Thing 9:13 (15.5MB)
Track 112. See Me Through ^ 6:02 (10.1MB)
Track 113. Moondance 4:23 (7.4MB)
52 mins

Disc 2
Track 201. Tore Down A La Rimbaud 3:09 (5.3MB)
Track 202. All Saints Day 2:55 (4.9MB)
Track 203. I Will Be There 1:57 (3.3MB)
Track 204. Some Peace Of Mind 4:37 (7.7MB)
Track 205. Northern Muse (Solid Ground)/Auld Lang Syne 4:10 (7.0MB)
Track 206. When The Healing Has Begun 5:42 (9.6MB)
Track 207. Vanlose Stairway/Trans Euro Train 6:30 (10.9MB)
Track 208. Summertime In England 9:32 (16.0MB)
Track 209. encore break ~ 0:06 (166k)
Track 210. Full Force Gale 3:05 (5.2MB)
42 mins

* whole band warms up without Van Morrison, Georgie Fame sings the vocals
^ with quotes from “Baby What You Want Me To Do”
~ note there was a pause in the master tape here as was customary at the time, just in case the encore went long

Lineup (thanks to for the info):
Van Morrison - vocals, harmonica
Haji Ahkba - flugelhorn & trumpet
Richie Buckley - tenor saxophone
Dave Early - drums
Georgie Fame - organ, vocals
Howard Francis - keyboards
Steve Gregory - tenor saxophone
Ronnie Johnson - guitar
Nicky Scott - bass

Click here to order Van Morrison releases.

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  1. 2 Responses to “VAN MORRISON - PARIS 1991”

  2. Thank you Big-O! I am really looking forward to hearing this one. When I saw him at the Masonic Aud in San Francisco in 1993 I got the same feeling that Van was calling out songs and key changes. I also noticed he looked at the stage at his feet periodically. I noticed a couple of 8.5×11 pieces of paper masking taped to the floor. At the end of the show the Roadies were packing up the stage equipment and I asked one of them if I could have the pages. He carefully peeled them up and gave them to me. In handwritten, block letters were 3 columns of song names such as “Into The Mystic”, “Village Idiot”, “Complicated”, “V.Lose”, “Star”, “Moondance”, and “Brown Eyed”, 46 in all. 23 of these were sung. My guess is that he would establish a setlist each tour that his band would be expected play from. All the songs he played this night were on the list. Most of his most popular songs to that point were on the list and a generous portion were played.

    By California Jim on May 9, 2015

  3. Sounds like a nice memory piece that you got there California Jim.

    By E.T on May 10, 2015

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