The Palladium, London.
I’ll start by saying I had my doubts about the new album and the new line up, both of which were completely blown away by the show I’ve just seen. The vast majority of the set was made up of the former, and the latter proved what a mistake it is to try and second guess Mike Scott. The new material was given wings by the addition of a second drummer/percussionist two extra vocalists, and a sublime guitarist, who gave Scott the opportunity on some numbers to throw some Jaggeresque shapes, unencumbered by having to play guitar at the same time, and from beneath a magnificent Stetson.
Seasoned Waterboys watchers shouldn’t expect a greatest hits set by any stretch of the imagination, but new songs like ‘You Married the Wrong Guy, Rosalyn’ (including a chorus of what I suspect was the original title all along – “You elected the wrong guy President”) are given a makeover from the album versions akin to that you might experience by watching a film on your laptop and then going to see it again in a fully Dolby-powered big screen state of the art cinema (the sound was flawless throughout). ‘Love Walks In’ was a tour-de-force as impressive as any I’ve seen the band perform in it’s many incarnations, and the only misstep all night was the still unconscionable ‘Morning Came Too Soon’.
Mike Scott has reinvented The Waterboys in a matter of months as a big rock and soul review, and has finally hit that big target of managing to combine The Clash and Van Morrison into one, fantastic whole. The only victim of this process is long time fiddler Steve Wickham, who is occasionally deemed surplus to requirements (as, to be fair, is everyone else on stage at some…um…stage) however he still manages to shine brightly, especially during the seemingly impromptu banjo/fiddle knock up two thirds of the way in. He’s no longer the leather-trousered philanthropist, hymning paeans to Garageland, or the raggle-taggle tourist, but it would appear that Mike Scott’s road goes on forever.
Fiercely loyal, desperate for ‘Whole of the Moon’. Not disappointed.
It made me think..
A Man is in Love.