Northern Ireland

Van Morrison: Fans travel from around the world for singer's birthday shows

Van Morrison Image copyright PA
Image caption Van Morrison will play two concerts on Cyprus Avenue to mark his 70th birthday

Down on Cyprus Avenue is the only place to be on Monday for Van Morrison fans.

That is because the singer will play two concerts on the tree-lined Belfast street that gave its name to one of his songs to mark his 70th birthday.

People from around the world have descended on Morrison's home city for the shows taking place a short distance from where he spent his childhood.

Among them is one Vanatic who has travelled more than 10,000 miles for what will be his "dream come true".

For Andrew Robertson, from Adelaide in Australia, Morrison's lyrics on the song Saint Dominic's Preview that "it's a long way to Belfast city, too" ring truer than they do to most people who will be at the show.

He has had a near life-long obsession with Morrison's music, and along with his wife Gayle has secured tickets to both gigs.

Image caption Andrew Robertson has taken in a trail of places in Belfast mentions in Morrison's songs

"Some people think we're mad, others are amused," he said.

He has already seen Morrison in concert twice since he arrived in Northern Ireland, at two intimate gigs at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, County Down.

Mr Robertson first heard Morrison's songs when he was a teenager and was immediately hooked.

"In the '60s, music was so exciting - the Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. But of everyone, the voice that stood out for me was Van.

"He has an amazing voice. He's often been called the best blues singer.

"His musical style, how he has embraced rock, soul, jazz, traditional celtic and other forms to create virtually his own version.

Image caption The tree-lined Cyprus Avenue will be transformed into a unique concert venue on Monday

"He can write in a unique and simple way. "

Mr Robertson said he was aware of people from 18 different countries, including the United States, India and South Africa, that have journeyed to Belfast for the gigs.

It is the first time the Australian native has visited Ireland.

On Sunday, he will join about 200 others at a gathering of international fans who have arrived in Belfast for the sold-out Cyprus Avenue shows.

"We're so lucky to get tickets to both concerts," he said.

"His music has enriched my life."

BBC Radio Ulster will exclusively broadcast Van Morrison's full 70th birthday concert live from Cyprus Avenue on Monday from 14:45 BST, while BBC One Northern Ireland will screen it on Friday 4 September at 22:35 BST.

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