To mark his 70th birthday, Van Morrison returned to Cyprus Avenue — the “avenue of trees” — for two intimate shows in the epicentre of his homeland.
Hundreds of Vanoraks travelled from dozens of countries for what had become a pilgrimage, since the gigs were first announced last year.
Despite the heavens opening for a deluge of rain at the start of his first show at 3pm, poncho-covered devotees gave the six-time Grammy award winner a standing ovation. Opening songs included classics ‘Moondance’, ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, and ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’.
Politicians, playwrights, screen actors, and fellow musicians, including Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall and television celebrity chef Rick Stein, were among those who braved the weather for the special birthday concerts.
Cyprus Avenue ... pic.twitter.com/lhyXUfhkHj— Van Morrison (@vanmorrison) August 31, 2015
The recently knighted genre-defying singer and multi-instrumentalist was born close to Cyprus Avenue, in a small two-up two-down on Hyndford St, on August 31, 1945.
A brass plaque marks the house he shared with his mother Violet and his father George, who worked as an electrician at the nearby Harland and Wolff shipyard.
He once described the much more affluent, 85-tree lined Cyprus Avenue up the road as “a very mystical place” and somewhere “where I could think”.
Broadcaster, former NME writer, and self-confessed “Vanorak” Stuart Bailie said the show was “the equivalent of Paul McCartney doing a gig on Penny Lane”.
Listening to some people being interviewed after the Van Morrison birthday concert in Belfast. One man, "I don't often cry but..."— ⚓️Count Melancholia (@LillyLyle) August 31, 2015
“It is a major, global international name back in his homeland, playing on a street he has celebrated in song. In east Belfast you are walking into this musical map he has given the world.”