The Waterboys @ Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.
Bang on 8 the houselights go down and a hearty cheer echoes round the high ceiling of Bridgewater Hall.
From our seats high at the back of the hall we have a great view of proceedings as the band launch into some vintage Waterboys tunes. From the start the energy levels are high with Mike Scott looking sharp, skinny and rock and roll leading proceedings with a magnetic presence. It’s classic Waterboys with their massive wall of Celtic Rock and Soul. Three songs in and the band are channelling Van Morrison as they slip ‘and the healing has begun’ into ‘The Thrill Has Gone’. Steve Wickham’s fiddle playing is as beautiful and ethereal as ever. Scott goes solo for ‘How Long Will I Love You’ before the band go into the mystic.
‘Glastonbury Song’ is epic , Scott cries “I just found God where he always was” and I am converted. Flying in the clouds suddenly we are in a leafy glade as we find the ‘Pan Within’, it is electrifying . The band take a break and I am emotionally drained. Staggeringly good.
The second half of the show is devoted to the songs from the An appointment with Mr Yeats album, which is Mike Scott’s interpretations of W.B. Yeats. Part theatre, part vaudeville and part rock and roll. If you are unfamiliar with this poetry, here is a great way to discover Yeats. On stage, The Waterboys create an atmosphere of magic, mystery, mythology and passion that enraptures the audience, no mean feat after such an epic first set. ‘Song of Wandering Aengus’ is epic, as is ‘White Birds’. A masterful ‘Politics’ makes a dramatic conclusion to the Yeats song cycle.
A brave and bold move to perform this material but no need for concern -we have come to listen and be transported into Yeats‘ mystic world and we are. I am sure the poet is glad to know his work has lost none of the intended mystery and power.
Incredibly we are not done yet because we haven’t had the crowd pleasers and here they come ‘Whole of the Moon’ and ‘Fisherman’s Blues’, every one is happy and sings along. 21 songs played with joy and passion.
Along time ago, in a universe far, far away, a bookshop I knew had a sign in the cd rack that said “Shock, old geezer makes great music”.
They still do!