Van Morrison joined by Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood in surprise appearance at Irish music festival
30 August 2023, 11:57
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For a festival of Irish culture and heritage, who better than Van Morrison to help celebrate it.
That's precisely who was booked as the main headliner for Páirc Festival 2023, which took place over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Taking to the stage on the Saturday night of the two-day festival held at the New Irish Centre in Birmingham was the legendary 'Brown Eyed Girl' singer.
There was plenty of highly-anticipated performances across the weekend, though Van Morrison set an incredibly high bar when he stepped on stage.
- When Sinead O'Connor and Van Morrison sang gorgeous and jovial duet of 'Have I Told You Lately'
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- Watch Paul McCartney perform 'Get Back' with Ringo Starr and Ronnie Wood
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His voice remains as evocative as ever, though the songs that shot him to fame during the mid-1960s like 'Moondance', 'Into The Mystic' and 'Days Like This', didn't feature.
Instead, Morrison's setlist also included a range of traditional folk numbers as a nod to the festival's regional spirit, covering the likes of Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and other influential luminaries.
The 7,000-strong audience at the Irish festival were stunned when Wood appeared, guitar in hand, to lend his soulful playing to Van's voice.
Ronnie and Van are long-time pals, and their on-stage relationship dates back to when they both performed during The Last Waltz, which was The Band's final ever performance.
The live show was famously documented by Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese, and featured guest appearances from Ron, Van, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris and more.
Since then Ronnie and Van have had a fruitful friendship and have appeared with one another on-stage over the years.
But a coming together at Páirc Festival was certainly unexpected, even though Ronnie has close ties to Birmingham given his wife Sally hails from the city's southern suburb of Moseley.
He wasn't the only special guest performance however, with British soul singer Chris Farlowe also lending his voice to the occasion.
Ron was evidently happy that old friend Van asked him to appear alongside him as they've done many times over the years.
After the show, the Stones' legend wrote on his Instagram: "Thank you Van Morrison for a great night at Birmingham’s Páirc Festival. It was fantastic to play with you and our friend Chris Farlowe."
Speaking after the festival-first coming together for Van Morrison and Ronnie Wood, Páirc Festival co-owner Ciaran Healy said it was "amazing to see the community come together and celebrate music and culture".
"People travelled from far and wide to come to Páirc Festival and we are truly grateful for each and every one who bought a ticket and supported us," he added.
"We were excited to bring huge names like Van Morrison, The Waterboys, Mary Black and Nathan Carter, but when we heard the news about Ronnie Wood and Chris Farlowe joining Van Morrison on stage it was a pinch yourself kind of moment," Healy admitted.
It certainly was, though the festival's organiser must be reeling - how on earth do they top this coming together next year?