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The Waterboys

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill - 16th November, 2015

Written By Andy Gunton

No treading water here.

A popular online encyclopedia, you know the one, describes the music of The Waterboys as a “mix of Celtic Folk music and rock ‘n’ roll”.

Anyone, like myself, seeing the band for the first time and who were expecting a high proportion of the setlist to include songs from the ‘Celtic Folk’ end of The Waterboys’ repertoire, were in for a surprise, but a very pleasant one.

This was a pure, straight ahead, rock and roll show and one that could have been transported from the heady days of the 1970’s, such was its musical content and concentration on performance over flashy gimmicks.

An understated stage and lighting set up maybe, but this was no understated show in any other way. From the opening song, ‘Destiny Entwined’, right through to the final offering of ‘Fisherman’s Blues’, this was a great example in letting the music do the talking.

That is made far easier, of course, when you have five classy musicians of the calibre of those on stage this evening.

Main man Mike Scott still possesses one of the most distinctive voices in rock music, and Steve Wickham plays the fiddle almost like a lead guitar. The reception he received when he walked on stage was something to behold.

Add to this a flamboyant keyboard player, who treated us to some wonderful and exuberant Hammond organ solo’s, and a bass player from the famed Muscle Shoals recording studio, and you can see why that was.

Some songs developed into extended musical workouts, with band members happily stepping aside to let their colleagues take centre stage. Mike Scott even wandered off to the side, or back, of the stage on occasions to allow this to happen, a nice touch.

This musical ‘self indulgence’ isn’t always a good thing, but when a band plays with the obvious enjoyment, enthusiasm and feeling that The Waterboys did, it becomes a treat.

The bulk of the nights setlist was taken from The Waterboys excellent new album ‘Modern Blues’, including its final track, ‘Long Strange Golden Road’, which see’s Mike Scott channelling his inner Jack Kerouac to great effect.

But old favourites such as ‘A Girl Called Johnny’, complete with three endings, and a stripped down version of ‘Don’t Bang The Drum’ with just piano and fiddle, were sprinkled in too. There was even space for a spirited cover of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’.

Not unsurprisingly the best reception of the evening was reserved for ‘Whole of The Moon’, during which had the enthusiastic crowd singing and dancing along with gusto.

This was run a very close second by the encore, ‘Fisherman’s Blues’, which finished off a very satisfying gig in fine style.

The Waterboys can be found at: mikescottwaterboys.com
A setlist for this gig can be seen here: Set List

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