With a reported meteor shower as his grand finale, a few hours after the Glasgow date of his tour for his 34th studio album, it'll never be know if 'Van the Man' even knew he was even in the UK last night, but he certainly timed it right.
Throwing Brown Eyed Girl straight into the Royal Concert Hall, and getting the expectation of that ghastly wedding wedding standard out of the way, his performance was immaculately backed by a seven-piece jazz band. His delivery so laid back, it took four songs to work out that he could indeed still be bothered, the practitioner of jazz improvisation kept it cool for cats in his delivery, hidden somewhere beneath the wide brim of his hat and dark glasses. Slurring his smooth, syncopated vocal as he pleased, and with jazz solos batted around the band from double bass to trombone and back again, the delivery of his biggest hit was far from the garish wedding anthem.
Barely allowing time for the largely Oil of Olay crowd to diffuse their cheers, Van Morrison rushed the set straight into the relaxed waltz of Only A Dream, his vocal showing no signs of wear, and tear and providing steep competition for his alto sax playing. The instrument, known for its smooth charms, initially seemed more jagged when laid next to the vocal of the renowned singer-songwriter.
Throwing what seemed to be more vitality into the set, but what actually turned out to be a hand gesture for water, the first release from his new album, Open the Door (To Your Heart), steered the set into new terrain, with the multi-instrumentalist taking to the piano for this number. With photography and mobile phones banned in the audience, the crowd, aside from the odd toilet break, were entirely wrapped up in the set, a hush in the auditorium, with barely a need to applaud given the rapid transition from track to track.
Selecting the set as they went, even leaving the bass player in the lurch on a rapid spring into Close Enough For Jazz, with barely any audience interaction, in one rare moment, the 67-year-old told fans, "There's so many songs in the repertoire, it's hard to know what's in the set." Although this regimented approach between songs could have appeared clinical, it was accepted that Van the Man wasn't there for good humour, his performance solely focussing on his musical talents, and enough charisma packed into his vocal delivery to make up for any shortfalls in personality.
Gearing the crowd into a zealous stomp (confirmed from the quaking ceiling of the toilets which lie beneath the stage), and quickly after, reclining into Who Can I Turn To, where a hushed end made you suddenly very aware of your own breath, the one and a half hour show certainly delivered. His impressive band were one that would have been a marvel to watch, whether they were backing Van the Man, or a tv talent show disaster.
Covering the Cole Porter classic, I Get A Kick Out Of You, it was hard to tell if an emotionless Van Morrison still got the same kick out of the industry that made him, but Glasgow certainly seemed to get a kick out of him last night.