Both in April and May Chris was a guest of Van Morrison, in April at The Royal Concert Hall (19 April) and Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry. On 14 and 15 May, the venues were The Newport Centre (South Wales) and the Gloucester Leisure Centre.
Chris has guested with Van on a number of occasions during the last few years, and to prepare he spends time with Van’s trumpeter Matt Holland (Matt also acts as musical director). As when Chris is playing with his own band they have a 30-minute-plus sound check; Chris is given the band “music book” as although some of the programmes may be the same, at most concerts the band will often only know what Van will sing when he tells them ten seconds before he starts!
Over the two nights in April only four or five songs were repeated. These included “Gloria” and “Brown Eyed Girl” (usually, but not always, played as encores). Chris’s part in the concert is threefold.
He opens the show up, presently with “Goin’ Up The River” and “Whatcha Gonna’ Do”, both numbers showcasing both Chris and Martin Winning (saxes, clarinet, flute) and Matt (trumpet and flugelhorn). The current remaining members of the band are Richard Dunn (keyboards), Ned Edwards (guitar, vocals), David Hayes (string and electric bass), and Bobby Irwin on drums. Van comes on at the start of the third number (Ken Colyer’s “Goin’ Home”) and the concert is in full swing. Chris plays as part of the front line, and also takes many excellent solos. The band play their hearts out, with Chris enjoying the difference playing with other musicians.
I was able to attend the Gloucester concert, and met up with Chris before the concert. I asked him if Van might agree to my taking a photo of Chris and Van. He was quite agreeable, and the results are shown here, together with a flyer for the two May concerts. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, and hope that Chris will be Van’s guest again soon!
Photograph Copyright © 2004 Van Morrison/Chris Barber/Julian Purser, licensed to chrisbarber.net.