ROCK / Van: the man who came in from the cold

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The Independent Culture
THE ROCK star least likely to schmooze pitched up at the Brits this week to receive the Outstanding Contribution to British Music award. The kisses on both cheeks, the fulsome dedications to family and friends - somehow such things were never quite Van Morrison's style. But on Monday, he did it his way, hidden under shades and a big black hat, mumbling a few largely inaudible words of thanks and then performing a ramshackle celebratory duet on 'Gloria' with the now near-toothless Shane MacGowan. Morrison is a year short of his fiftieth birthday and his soulful bark is more popular than it's ever been. In April, Polydor Records will push out A Night in San Francisco, a concert recording made in America last September. It runs for two and a half hours, taking in a spread of the old favourites and four blues covers never recorded by Morrison before: 'Ain't that Loving You Baby', 'Stormy Monday', 'Help Me' and 'Shakin' All Over'. These numbers may or may not be present and / or recognisable in the current live shows - Morrison's wilful unpredictability in this respect rivalling Dylan's - but generous show-length comes as standard. Morrison is at Oxford Apollo, 0865 244544, Fri & Sat. Also at Manchester Apollo, 061-273 3775/9, 4 March; Sheffield City Hall, 0742 735295, 5 March.

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