These days, Van “The Man” Morrison’s reputation precedes him – gruff, cantankerous and unlikely to indulge in banter between songs.
But when a living legend like Van comes to town, it’s time to cancel all your plans and part with your hard-earned cash regardless.
We were treated to a dynamite set from Ireland’s national hero as he performed tracks from throughout his long and distinguished career. And with songs in his repertoire like Crazy Love, Ballerina and Moondance, you excuse any absence of rapport with the audience.
For a man of 66 he still has an incredible voice, which wavers with ease between a growling scat and a soaring blues holler.
He was backed by a highly accomplished band which moved effortlessly between Van’s bespoke soul, R&B, jazz and country.
Every now and then, Morrison would stop singing and point at one of the band, who’d launch into an improptu solo while Van looked on, shouting out his encouragement.
There were times when the jazzy riffing seemed to go on for longer than necessary, but with the talent on offer this wasn’t a problem.
In addition to the moving poetic and spiritual numbers, such as In The Garden, there were up-tempo bluesy tracks like Real Real Gone and Gloria, both of which were stomped out with gusto. There were also some fine covers of tracks by Sonny Boy Williamson (Help Me) and Ray Charles (I Can’t Stop Loving You).
True, he failed to acknowledge the rapturous reception that each song garnered, and remained stony faced behind his trademark dark sunglasses and hat. But though Morrison might not speak to the audience between songs, his 12-bar blues anti-media rant says it all – Talk is Cheap. Who needs words when his music speaks for itself?
Overall, a truly memorable night in the company of one of the finest and most idiosyncratic musicians the UK has ever produced.