In the coming weeks, Sir Van Morrison will release his third album in little over a year – it’s as if he truly believes precious time is slipping away. Similarly, this set was stuffed full of musical action and dispatched at a no-nonsense clip. Morrison shuffled on, grabbed his saxophone, launched into Moondance, engaged in a glorious Mile Davis-referencing duet with his musical director Paul Moran on trumpet and then barely drew breath for the following 90 minutes.
Van Morrison, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ***
The six-piece band, arranged with all their paraphernalia in a semi-circle around the main man, were innately alert to his semaphore instructions. Solos were brief and punchy and applause was for wusses – there was barely an opening for the audience to show their appreciation before the next tightly marshalled nugget was underway.
Yet there was no indecent haste to proceedings – Morrison’s warm, inviting music effectively turned the Concert Hall into a jazz supper club. And there was a lot of supper on offer as he was generous with the hits, often in lithe new arrangements, from a sprightly, skiddly-bop Bright Side of the Road to a chirpy, swinging rendition of Have I Told You Lately.
For all his legendary gruffness, there was a sense of celebration throughout his set – celebration of his band’s abilities in the blithe conversation between trumpet, bass and western swing guitar on Brown Eyed Girl and celebration of Sir Van’s ever-expanding canon. Just don’t expect him to wait around to acknowledge it.