Into the Mystic – six musicians from the Burlington, Vermont area plus a ringer guitarist from neighboring New Hampshire – paid tribute to the artistry of Van Morrison at Skyloft in Crossgates Mall on Saturday May 18.
For nearly two hours the septet ranged through the early years of Morrison’s catalog, focusing mostly on his heralded seventies period. With Avery Cooper contributing on sax (plus some lovely flute on “Tupelo Honey”) and Gordon Clark on trombone, Into the Mystic resembles a stripped-down version of Morrison’s 1973 Caledonia Soul Orchestra.
The Caledonia ensemble featured a string section as well as horns, but Into the Mystic was content to embellish every song (except “Bulbs”) with peppy horn arrangements. They certainly did justice to such early hits as “Wild Night,” “Domino” and “Caravan,” but the charts were even more intriguing when ITM explored less familiar eighties compositions, such as “Dweller on the Threshold,” “Cleaning Windows” and “Tore Down a la Rimbaud.”
Justin Panigutti, on vocals and rhythm guitar, had perhaps the toughest job of anyone in the septet, emulating Morrison’s gruff vocals, his penchant for wordless exclamations and exhortations, and even occasionally Van’s patented leg kick and arm thrust.
Panigutti’s love for Van’s music was evident – in fact, it was clear that the entire band enjoyed their work. Guitarist Daniel Rahilly didn’t have much room to show off, but on “Kingdom Hall” he unleashed a pithy stinging solo with a studied nonchalance that evoked Robbie Robertson.
Setlist: Wavelength, Kingdom Hall, And It Stoned Me, Warm Love, Dweller on the Threshold, Glad Tidings, Wild Night, Domino, Cleaning Windows, I’ve Been Working, Tupelo Honey, Sweet Thing, Tore Down a la Rimbaud, Satisfied, Bulbs, Into the Mystic, St. Dominic’s Preview, Caravan