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  • Writer's pictureMike O'Driscoll

The Waterboys - Live

Went to see the Waterboys in Cardiff last night at St David's Hall. I was a huge fan of Mike Scott's band in the 80s and early 90s, from their self-titled debut album through to 1990's Room to Roam. I kind of lost track of them after that but never lost sight of how good A Pagan Place, This is the Sea, and particularly, Fisherman's Blues, were. Never got the chance to see them perform live at the time, much to my regret.

I caught up with them again around the time Scott set a bunch of WB Yeats's poems to music for 2010's fine An Appointment with Mr Yeats, and Scott has continued to release new music with a varied line up-albeit including the almost ever-present Steve Wickham on fiddle.

Last night's two hour set had songs from throughout their career, from debut single 'A Girl called Johnny,' right up to 2020's 'Dennis Hopper,' from the album Good Luck, Seeker. Other more recent songs played included 'Too Close to Heaven', 'Still a Freak,' a blistering version of 'Nashville, Tennessee,' and 'In my time on Earth.' The bulk of the set though was from This is the Sea, with Scott starting with a stunning, piano accompanied version of 'Don't Bang the Drum,' and encoring with 'The Whole of the Moon' (what else would it have been?). In between they played 'Old England,' 'The Pan within', 'Be my Enemy', 'Medicine Bow,' and the highlight for me, a gorgeous waltz-time version of 'This is the Sea.'

There was just the one song, 'How long will I love you," from Room to Roam, and most disappointingly, just the title track from Fisherman's Blues, even though it was a rousing, emotional version. How can you write song as good as 'A Bang on the ear,' or 'We will not be Lovers' and not play them? Also, it was sad that there was no material from A Pagan Place - a second encore of 'Church not made with Hands' might have made Cardiff erupt in rapture.

Still, these were small gripes, for it was indeed one of the best music gigs I've been to in the last five or six years, and that's damn good going for a band (in all its incarnations), that's been giving us sublime music since the early 1980s.

Thank you indeed, Mr Scott.

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