The Waterboys in Vicar Street, Dublin, on November 4th 2015
There are a lot of ‘Waterpeople’ in town this week, as The Waterboys hit Vicar Street for a four night residency. This is a band known for set-list variety and another innovation they have introduced this time is a four night pass, thus offering further incentive to see multiple shows, and enjoy this band who Ireland have made their own over the last three decades.
GoldenPlec is attending the first night, and before the band begin the scene is set by the loud sounds of a superb mix-tape/mash-up playing over the PA. Apparently these tapes are curated by Mike Scott himself who we know likes mash-ups.
The loud sound continues in to the opening song, as the band bookend their main set with the opening and closing songs on the current album (‘Modern Blues’). Thus we get a boisterous key-board and guitar laden opener Destinies Entwined, and they close the set with major new anthem Long Strange Golden Road. Both are high points of the show.
The show is not without some problems though. Firstly, it could be argued that the volume is too high, risking the instruments bleeding in to each other in the normally perfect Vicar Street sound system. Having said that, all six musicians are technically superb and the energy levels are very high. The addition of Brother Paul on keyboards and organ in particular has a big impact on the band. He brings a lot to the table!
But the pacing of the show is perhaps a little overly frenetic and there are really no ballads or slower, quiet moments. Ironically the quietest song on the night is a much quieter than normal ‘Don’t Bank The Drum’ which is currently nicely re-arranged as a two-hander between Mike on piano and Steve Wickham on fiddle.
Also, one could argue that they have chosen some of the weaker songs on ‘Modern Blues’ to promote, such as the depressing The Nearest Thing to Hip and the low-key Rosalind. Meanwhile it seems a pity that November Tale doesn’t make the playlist. There are not many recognizable songs for the average ‘walk-in’ punter either, and given that one man’s November Tale may be another man’s Whole Of The Moon, the crowd really only come to life when the band kick in to their biggest hit, one song from the end of the main set.
It is unclear whether the slightly lifeless feeling in the audience for the first hour of the show is due to the ear-splitting volume, the set-list, or opening-night niggles/lack of banter, but from Whole of the Moon onwards, the atmosphere is transformed and the crowd comes to life.
As previously mentioned, Long Strange Golden Road ends the show and does so in some style. Then we get a lovely debut of a song apparently called Mudslide from Texas which is all about the father of Mike’s new guitar player, who is sitting in the audience. This is a witty catchy song, and the crowd love it, which is always a mark of a good song given that nobody has heard it before.
The second and final encore is of course Fishermans Blues, this year with Mike playing keyboards on it instead of acoustic guitar, and it goes down a storm.
Another good year for the Waterboys then, with a strong album and good ticket sales. GoldenPlec wishes fans and band all the best for the remainder of the Vicar Street residency. If you can get a ticket, go!