Gig review: Van Morrison, Perth Concert Hall

Van Morrison. Picture: BBC
Van Morrison. Picture: BBC
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On this experience the Van Morrison live show is akin to a religious experience – it’s lots of older people sitting in near silence having an occasionally transcendental experience.

Van Morrison

Perth Concert Hall

Star rating: * * * *

Not that a sense of respectful awe was misplaced when it came to the deservedly revered Irish singer, but it felt strange to be in the presence of such politeness when the set contained a couple of the finest blues-rock hits.

Unashamed crowd-pleasing was the order of this show, and Morrison’s seven-piece band did an excellent job of recreating the various phases and styles of his career, from the breezy folk rock of Tupelo Honey merged with Why Must I Always Explain? to the light but skilfully performed jazz of Moondance and The Way Young Lovers Do. Throughout, his voice is a potent, rasping growl. Its enduring dynamism is used to best effect on the sublime Pagan Heart – which memorably broke down into a humming solo from Morrison before he frantically signalled for the band to kick in once more – and the humbling delicacy and precision of Into the Mystic. Curses to the person who clapped during its closing, whispered “switch off your mind” mantra and ruined a crystalline moment.

In fact, the only song which didn’t benefit from the weather-beaten, almost scat-like maturity of his voice was the pop perennial Brown Eyed Girl, although it perfectly matched the old Them numbers Baby Please Don’t Go and Gloria. The last song closed the set in epic style, our ever-taciturn host having long since left the stage following a well deserved instruction that we offer a “big hand for the band”, virtually his only words of the evening.