As is apparent from the setlist, the highlights inevitably were the resurrected "Vanlose Stairway," with Morrison enunciating in that glorious way of his about expanding the gita, and sending a picture, through Krishna, and the epic unfolding beauty of "In the Afternoon" rolling into a sublime extended "Raincheck," with all kinds of improvisation in between, including several "No prima donnas" flowing over and around the mouthpiece of the sax Van still had clenched between his teeth, to the passionate praise of the "Golden Autumn Day" that illuminated New York this afternoon after the rain clouds whirled off to the northeast.
The rest of the gig was of a piece with Van's recent set lists.
But as always, many of the songs took on different hues and vocal ornamentation, such as Van clucking his tongue against the roof of his mouth during Early in the Morning, or leaving the stage at the end of Help Me softly blowing on the harp until he disappeared into the wings.
Morrison was rearing back and often working very hard tonight.
It was a good gig that had some sublime moments and also its fair share of businesslike ones, "Moondance," for example. The set list would benefit from a serious shakeup.
The band provided solid musical support, with John Platania hopefully getting a little more work Saturday and Sunday.
The 77-year-old Bobby Blue Bland was up against a 7 o'clock start on a Friday night in upper Manhattan, so few were in their seats when he slowly took the stage supported by an associate. Most people were still traipsing into the theater and talking during his short set.
Not a lot of respect apparent there, but the rudeness did not appear to be deliberate. There is still a delicious sweet soul core at the heart of Bland's voice, although that snorting, snoggling vocal effect can be somewhat baffling.