Van Morrison performing his Keep Me Singing Tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Monday 28th November 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Earlier this year Sir Van Morrison was knighted for his services to the music industry and tourism in Northern Ireland, but he could just as well have received it for his contribution to being one of the grumpiest men ever.

A distinctly prompt start to the proceedings had many scrambling for their seats as he brought his Keep Me Singing tour to The Royal Concert Hall last night. At exactly 8pm he strode onto the stage, snapped his fingers and began with Too Late, a song from his latest album, Keep Me Singing. Following up with another newbie, Every Time I See A River, Morrison did not hang about.

Known for being famously grouchy, he concealed himself behind his dark glasses and hat, and standing still until he wanted to cue his band, he delivered very little between song banter. But that didn’t spoil the evening because there were plenty of gems for his hardcore fans, including a Tore Down A La Rimbaud which was delivered with real gusto, whilst he slowed things down with an impassioned Beautiful Vision and a soulful Crazy Love.

For Moondance every member of his highly talented band took a brief solo spin, as they played with precision and elegance all night; offering the sort of discreet support Morrison deserves. Guitarist Dave Keary brought just about the right country twang to proceedings, whilst Paul Moran shifted deftly from his B3 Hammond and brass.

With Morrison’s big, bold and versatile vocals he rushed through his ninety minute set. There were beautiful versions of Someone Like You and Sometimes We Cry and a powerful rendition of the 1989 duet with Cliff Richard, Whenever God Shines His Light, which injected a spirit of gospel into the proceedings. Have I Told You Lately was set to a jaunty almost ska type beat whilst Brown Eyed Girl induced a mass sing along.

Finishing his main set with the delightful In The Garden, Morrison left the stage still singing. Within minutes, the familiar strains of Morrison’s Them gem from 1964, the eternal rocker Gloria filled the Hall, and as Keary led a monster jam that continued for about ten minutes after Morrison had left the stage for the final time, it was a job done and done well.

Morrison may well fit right in with televisions Grumpy Old Men, but he does deliver and entertain. Probably well and truly back on the tour bus before his razor sharp band had played their last note, it was clear that this audience had been in the presence of a legend, who at the age of 71 doesn’t look like retiring anytime soon. It had been a faultless performance with his voice in fine fettle, and his terrific guitar, harmonica and saxophone work showing this audience that there is still life in the old grumps yet.