Last night I was at the Royal Albert Hall to see a great show by Van Morrison - one 75 minute normal set followed by "Astral Weeks" in its entirety.
It has been a few years since I have seen him and apparently in that time his performances had become a bit perfunctory. If that was the case it certainly didn't apply last night. He seems to have got his groove back. He even laughed at one point, which was a little unnerving.
One of the many highlights was "Queen of the Slipstream" from his "Poetic Champions Compose" LP. Here is a version by Son Seals:
That is from the appallingly titled "Vanthology", released in 2003. Fortunately the album is much better than the title, and takes the simple idea of getting some classic soul and blues singers into the studio to interpret Van. Generally it works very well and for me it was a real treat to hear some of my favourite singers - people like Otis Clay and William Bell - adding their great voices to songs by the man I consider the all-time number one.
The second selection from the album is Little Milton's version of "Tupelo Honey":
And finally here is the man himself performing "Sweet Thing" at the Hollywood Bowl version of the same show. His production company seem to have put the whole show up on YouTube but this is the only number that doesn't have an annoying "VM" logo superimposed over the action. Needless to say I'll be looking out for the DVD.