Arts and Entertainment

You have to applaud the restlessness and drive of a talent such as JTE's. At its best (see Harlem River Blues), the results are a beguiling blend of demon-driven countryfied rock-gospel and Earle could easily have stuck in that groove/rut.

Album: Van Morrison

Magic Time, EXILE/POLYDOR

The Weasel: Tell 'em about the honey, Mummy

For those over 45, `smoothie' calls to mind Michael Aspel rather than a drink

Album: Van Morrison

What's Wrong with This Picture? Blue Note

pop van morrison

Now comfortably ensconced in his mid-fifties, the Belfast legend still takes his regular roadtrips round the country and, if his performance at the Fleadh this year is anything to go by, the curmudgeonly one is in good form. As well as playing a selection from his well-received current album, Back on Top, he rolled out the real gems from his early days at that festival, including "Gloria", "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Here Comes the Night". Whether he'll do those or not on this tour, which begins in Nottingham, is entirely down to his whim on the night, but whatever you do don't badger him vocally to play them or he could throw one of his tantrums. Morrison's moodiness does have its drawbacks - but when everything flows the man has few, if any, equals.

Pop: Eclipse '99

It's all going crazy down in Devon and Cornwall for the biggest lifestyle hype besides that M-word experience on New Year's Eve. The best live line-up is at the Total Eclipse festival in Newnham Park (see page 35), while James and Kula Shaker play at Cornwall's Lizard Festival, and Van Morrison and Roni Size (left) at the Moonshadow Eclipse Festival in Torpoint. Taking a slightly different approach is Eclipse '99, which, apart from a Madchester revival of Happy Mondays and Monaco, concentrates on big name DJs: Tall Paul and Seb Fontaine on Tuesday; Grooverider, Judge Jules, Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold on Wednesday.

Music: The fleadh

In 1990, few non-Gaelic speakers knew what Fleadh (festival of music) meant, never mind how it should be pronounced. Now, with today's 10th instalment, "fleadh" has almost become a household word. It's impossible to predict the mood of the curmudgeonly Van Morrison (left), but there's always something of merit in his shows and when he's on form he's unmissable. Elvis Costello, the Pretenders and Ronan Keating are the other big draws on the main stage while the excellent Ron Sexsmith and other singer-songwriters populate the second stage, headlined by Shane MacGowan & the Popes. A third tent features Ardal O'Hanlon and other comics plus a few worthwhile musical nuggets including the Handsome Family.

Clap hands across the sea

Rock festivals are upon us. And the Fleadh shows how they became an international franchise. By Cole Moreton

Last true romantic of rock'n'roll

Bruce Springsteen is back, once more carrying the promise of greatness. By Richard Williams

Pop: The grouch is gone

VAN MORRISON

From ham and gammon to mutton

A small boy was marching along the promenade at Blackpool on a mild, watery-sunny day, long ago. One hand held his mother's, the other bore a large white scroll on which the child had carefully copied out all the terms of the Armistice. It was November 1918 and the 10-year-old who was to grow up into Alistair Cooke was already - he says now - displaying a visible slice of ham.
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