In a year which has taken so many iconic elder musicians away from us, it was reassuring to be in the presence of one who still appears to be full of life, health and vitality. He may have played for 15 minutes less than his band – the rousing, out-of-our-chairs instrumental outro to Gloria added the additional time once he’d left the stage following a 90-minute set – but Van Morrison, now 71, led the show with admirable spirit and commitment.
Edinburgh Playhouse ****
In dark suit and black fedora, and with very little to say for himself, Morrison wound through an extensive selection of tracks which would have most pleased the album-listener rather than the greatest hits-loving armchair fan.
His voice remains undamaged after all these years, filled with gravelly experience and sharp, youthful enthusiasm, often within the space of a line, and his musical connection with his band of four musicians and one backing singer was strong; he played guitar and saxophone, the latter most notably during his take on Ray Charles’s bluesy Lonely Avenue.
He also wore the instrument for Moondance, a mini musical odyssey which skipped along on piano and double bass solos, and some wonderfully subtle trumpet lines.
Perfectly orchestrated, the music was by turns wistful on Have I Told You Lately, upbeat and breezily rocking on Crazy Love and the signature Brown Eyed Girl, and gorgeously expansive on the penultimate medley of Celtic Excavation and Into the Mystic. It was a wonderful reminder of an artist whose work deserves to be cherished in the moment.