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Van Morrison will bring 'Astral Weeks' show back to California

March 23, 2009 |  3:52 pm

The resurrection of Van Morrison’s watershed 1968 album “Astral Weeks” in concert continues to expand with the Irish singer’s announcement of plans to bring it back to California in May for several more performances.

Morrison will present the work in its reconfigured entirety at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on May 2 and 3 and then will return to Los Angeles for three more nights at the 2,000-seat Orpheum Theatre downtown May 7-9. The band and orchestra that will accompany him includes guitarist Jay Berliner, who played on the original recording sessions in New York four decades ago.

The world premiere performances of “Astral Weeks” live took place at the Hollywood Bowl over two nights in November. A CD was released last month, and a DVD from those shows is slated for April 7 release exclusively at Amazon.com.

A short time after the Hollywood Bowl performances, Morrison told The Times that the venue’s historic significance led him to choose it for the first live performances and as the site for the CD/DVD recording with the full orchestration he’d long had in mind.

“The orchestral arrangements just came alive -- the whole thing just worked,” he said after the Bowl shows. “We hit the stage and the Magi or whoever just waved the wand and we flew. Even now, listening to the live recording of the shows, I hear something different and profound every time I replay something. It took me a while to understand that we really did it, and made it into something even more different than it already was.”

Subsequently, he decided to add more shows in New York at Madison Square Garden and the Beacon Theatre, and has two more dates scheduled -- April 18 and 19 -- at London’s Royal Albert Hall before returning to the U.S. for the added shows in California. Tickets for both engagements go on sale to the public Sunday, while American Express cardholders can buy them early starting Wednesday.

— Randy Lewis

Photo: Van Morrison at the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Nancy Pastor / Los Angeles Times