Classic concert: Van Morrison – Live at Montreux 1980

Another GREAT Van Morrison concert…

For this 1980 concert, Van Morrison had a relatively large band, concisting of a stellar horn section featuring Pee Wee Ellis and Mark Isham, two drummers (one of whom, Peter Van Hooke, would later go on to be wasted in Mike & the Mechanics), and a fantastic set list.

Highlights: “And It Stoned Me,” “Spirit,” and “Satisfied”.

van morrison montreux 1980The sound and video are good, considering that this is taped in the age of bad video; the sound is particularly impressive. This is a chance to see a rock & roll legend in his prime, this is classic Van Morrison. And the saying, “It doesn’t get any better than this” is not just a hollow saying in this case.


  • Van Morrison (Vocal, Guitar)
  • John Allair (keyboards)
  • Pee Wee Ellis (saxophone)
  • David Hayes (bass)
  • Mark Isham (trumpet)
  • Jef Labes (keyboards)
  • John Platania (guitar)
  • Dahuad Shaar (drums)


  1. “Wavelength” – 7:44
  2. “Kingdom Hall” – 4:24
  3. “And It Stoned Me” – 4:00
  4. “Troubadours” – 5:52
  5. “Spirit” – 9:06
  6. “Joyous Sound” – 2:52
  7. “Satisfied” – 7:01
  8. “Ballerina” – 7:12
  9. “Summertime in England” – 10:03
  10. “Moondance” – 4:11
  11. “Haunts Of Ancient Peace” – 7:53
  12. “Wild Night” – 3:20
  13. “Listen to the Lion” – 7:02
  14. “Tupelo Honey” – 8:17
  15. “Angelou” – 9:22

van morrison montreux 1980


The Montreux concert performances of the songs on the first disc took place on July 10, 1980 and featured four of the songs that would appear on Morrison’s next album, Common One. Other songs played were chosen from albums over the last twelve years of Morrison’s recordings, returning even to Astral Weeks for an over seven-minute-long version of “Ballerina”.

Unlike the 1974 Montreux performance, Morrison had played with all of the band members previously. Four of them had been part of the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, disbanded in 1973: David Hayes, Jef Labes, John Platania, and Dahaud Shaar. The other band members had all played on his last two recordings. David Hayes was a seasoned performer, having been part of the Caledonia Soul Orchestra and played bass on Common One and Into the Music.

Erik Hage singles out two of the performances at the concert, calling the interaction between the brass and Morrison “simply stunning” on “Troubadours” and “Angeliou” remarking that: “On the former, Ellis and Morrison were locked in with each other, Ellis offering high, intense blasts and Morrison crying out right back at him in the throes of that elusive musical ‘connection’ he spent so much of his life seeking out.”

Critical response:

Ray Ellis wrote of Morrison’s 1980 performances: “He doesn’t only give the individual band members room to stretch (in the best tradition of jazz), he immerses himself so deeply into the groove, his voice literally becomes one of the instruments, alternating between second sax and percussion in some of the songs.”

Erik Hage summed up his impression of the concert performances with:
“Here, a more gracious and positive Morrison threw himself into the experience and brought along a fleshed out big band.”


  • Hallgeir