Gig review: Van Morrison, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

Van Morrison. Picture: AFP/GettyImages
Van Morrison. Picture: AFP/GettyImages
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This year’s season of Summer Nights at the Kelvingrove Bandstand kicked off in fine style with about as close to a party set as Van Morrison has ever given.

Van Morrison | Rating: **** | Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

The Irish icon was as inscrutable a stage presence as ever but, if not exactly the life and soul, he and his excellent band were in an obliging hit-friendly form

This was a marvellous night for a curtain-raising rendition of Moondance followed in short order by The Way Young Lovers Do, though the jazz-on-a-summer’s-night vibrations soon gave way to the misty-eyed Beauty of the Days Gone By, a touching, tender devotional offering with hymnal organ.

Certain pockets of the audience with an appetite for dance and possessed of a testifying (or other form of) spirit started to throw some Pentecostal shapes, turning a corner of Kelvingrove Park into an open air revival meeting. If Morrison wouldn’t oblige as an MC, the crowd were prepared to make their own fun, spurring each other on during Here Comes The Night, while the Celtic soul double whammy of Brown Eyed Girl and Jackie Wilson Said raised every acolyte to their feet.

There wasn’t an ounce of fat on the performance, although Van’s band were so tightly marshalled that they failed to muster the garagey menace of Baby Please Don’t Go. Nor did they appear able or willing to cut loose on Gloria, even though they were left to ad lib after Morrison had given his last blast on harmonica and ambled off stage, filling out a couple more minutes with acid jazz and slap bass for a party crowd who were not quite ready to call it a night.