Johannasvisions on a roadtrip to see Van Morrison at Notodden Blues Festival

Photo: Jarle Vines (Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 3.0)

I have finally seen Van Morrison in concert, and I’m going around with a big grin on my face. It was better than I could hope for. I had heard a lot about how his concerts could be hit or miss affairs, and I was a bit afraid that we would end up with a miss. We did not!

We jumped in the car at 9:30 in the morning on Friday 2 August and drove to Notodden, this took nearly 6 hours with some stops along the way (and a few hiccups in the traffic). We drove through fantastic mountain scenery and listened to Van’s music and had interesting discussions on his music (and life in general).


We put up the tent at the official Blues-camp, drank some wine/beer/whisky and headed over to the concert area.

Van Morrison had asked for James Hunter Six to be support act to his own show, they did a good job. They sound better live than on record, but the best ones always do.

jim hunter six

Minute by Minute from their latest album, Minute by Minute was the high point for me, great singing and good fun!

Then there was a short wait until the main attraction would come on stage. The band came out and started Celtic Swing, Morrison joined them and the stage was set. This instrumental sounded tight and good, and the main man played some fine sax. The band consists of seasoned musicians and they played brilliantly through the concert.

I will not go through all the songs, but it was a good set, it was a great set. The last half of the concert was incredibly good. Van Morrison smiled and even told a joke (!): The horns were in the middle of a particular grandiose (even pretentious) part of I Can’t stop loving you when Van points his arm in their direction and declares, “The Bert Kaempfert Orchestra!”, then grins and says, ” almost like the real thing”. Funny guy!

van morrison notodden

James Hunter joined them on stage for two rousing renditions of Help me and Gloria. It was one of the best concerts I’ve seen this year.

Set list (I’ve marked my favorites with an * ):

1. Celtic Swing
2. Got to go back
3. Only a dream
4. Keep mediocrity at bay
5. Pagan Heart *
6. Baby Please don’t Go/Boogie Chillen/Rock Island Line
7. What am I living for
8. Playhouse
9. Born to sing *
10. Going down to Monte Carlo
11. Moondance
12. Brown Eyed Girl
13. Jackie Wilson Said
14. That’s Life
15. Whenever God Shines his light *
16. Can’t Stop Loving You *
17. Help Me *  w/ James Hunter
18. Gloria *  w/ James Hunter

Van Morrison told us we had been a fantastic audience, danced (yep) off the stage and the band finished an extended Gloria. It was fantastic!

We saw/heard Little Andrew (parts of it anyway) – didn’t do it for us, Beth Hart, well, one of our principles here at JV is not to write about things we don’t like, therefore I will not say anything about her performance.  Late on Friday night we saw The Royal Southern Brotherhood, a band with great potential, a good group of musicians but their songs don’t match their skillful playing. A very promising band none the less!

We went down to our tent around two in the morning, and some fucker on a bus played bad trance music until five! Why do all the guys with the largest loudspeakers have the worst taste in music? I seriously considered throwing rocks at them around the time the power went out in the morning. Then came the rain, the worst downpour  we have seen in quite a long time. First time camping in a tent in at least 15 years and all this!  We woke up at around ten. 5 good hours of sleep 🙂

We saw Ida Jenshus and here incredible band before the drive home. I’ve said most of the fine things that has to be said about Jenshus and her band, and again they gave us a wonderful concert. They ended the show with a fantastic version of Neil Young’s Words (from Harvest). Then and there all the noise from those trance loving idiots and the bad weather from the night were forgotten. It had all been worth it.

ida jenshus
Phot from Ida Jenshus’ Official Facebook Page

We had a great time and I am still smiling!

– Hallgeir


3 thoughts on “Johannasvisions on a roadtrip to see Van Morrison at Notodden Blues Festival”

  1. Very nice review.Thank you.I wish i had been there.

    Cheers, Pat.

    ps, i have written a few Van reviews on my page if you would like to see them.

    1. Thank you for the kind words.

      Egil, my partner here at Johannasvisions have read many of your posts.
      Your site is new to me but I will most definitely check it out.

      By the way, Egil asks were your eminent Van Morrison Top 100 posts went? He tells me they were excellent. And if you are reworking them into a book it will make a great one, he assures me.

      – Hallgeir

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