Northern Ireland

Van Morrison: Thousands attend concerts on Belfast's Cyprus Avenue

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Media captionArts correspondent Robbie Meredith reports from Van Morrison's 70th birthday concerts

Van Morrison has marked his 70th birthday with two concerts on Cyprus Avenue in east Belfast.

Around 3,000 people attended the shows, which were held on the street he immortalised in the album Astral Weeks.

The concerts are the climax of the EastSide Arts Festival and fans travelled from across the world to attend the gigs.

Morrison played hits including Moondance, Brown Eyed Girl and Baby Please Don't Go.

Among the thousands in the crowd were politicians and celebrities, including Robert Pattinson, Kim Cattrall and crime writer Ian Rankin.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Fans travelled from across the world to be at Monday's concerts

Rick Haught, 57, from Eugene, Oregon, travelled to Belfast with his wife Carla for the first concert.

"I'd be lying if I told you when I stepped onto Cyprus Avenue I didn't get goosebumps," he said.

"I always wanted to see Van in Belfast, but to see him on his birthday on this street is something special."

Image caption Politicians and celebrities, including actors Kim Cattrall and Robert Pattinson, were among the crowd

Morrison was born a short distance from Cyprus Avenue, on Hyndford Street, on 31 August 1945.

He has described the avenue as a "very mystical place".

"It was a whole avenue lined with trees and I found it a place where I could think," he said.

Cyprus Avenue is best known for a pair of songs from his 1968 album Astral Weeks.

The song Cyprus Avenue closes side one of the album, while the street is also mentioned in the famous opening to Madame George on side two.

You can listen back to Van Morrison's first Cyprus Avenue concert on BBC Radio Ulster online, while BBC One Northern Ireland will screen it on Friday 4 September at 22:35 BST.

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