Van Morrison

Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

Three stars

Graeme Thomson

The extent to which you’re transported by Van Morrison in concert these days rather depends on which version of The Man you prefer. Fans of the immersive, soul-searching Celtic Soul adventurer of yore will be left wanting more, while disciples of his latter-day reinvention as a no-nonsense, finger-snappin’ Symphony Sid will find much to please.

The second of these incarnations dominated Thursday night’s open-air appearance in Glasgow’s West End. For the first half of the show, Morrison could have passed for an old school bandleader, a seasoned saxophonist who does a bit of singing on the side. He skiddly-bopped his way through a mixture of jazz and blues standards – Eddie Vinson’s Hold It Right There; Bo Diddley’s Ride On Josephine – and originals. The approach brought mixed results. How Far From God was superb, Morrison rocking Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s gospel with real fervour, and Magic Time was lush and languorous. Turning the stately Have I Told You Lately into twitching scat-jazz was a less inspired move, however, while Moondance felt slightly perfunctory.

At 72, his voice remains strong and supple, while his terrific six-piece band provided a lesson in low-key versatility, but Morrison was playing well within himself until he sat down at the piano to conjure glorious versions of Northern Muse and Vanlose Stairway. Finally, the darkening night crackled with the possibilities of transcendence. Energised, if not quite truly inspired, Morrison duly embarked on a good-natured home run through the hits. Spirited, soulful renditions of Wild Night, Bright Side Of The Road, Jackie Wilson Said and Brown Eyed Girl flooded the park with a warm, joyful glow, leading to a closing Gloria which lacked bite and seemed to go on for miles. Not vintage Van, then, but close enough for jazz.