- 05 Aug 03
Maverick genius or away with the fairies? Peter Murphy travels to North-East Scotland to meet Mike Scott at home in the spiritual Findhorn community where The Waterboys’ latest album was written and recorded. And Steve Wickham explains how he left and rejoined the band.
Call it what you want: the money shot, or the motherlode, or the moment of transubstantiation, but it occurs two thirds of the way through ‘Strange Boat’ during The Waterboys’ first set at Universal Hall on the grounds of the Findhorn Foundation in North-East Scotland. Having dispensed with the verses, Mike Scott swaps his acoustic guitar for an electric and makes that thing growl, striking sparks off all-star fiddler Steve Wickham, and the show is transformed from monochrome to full technicolour.
Not that the set had been short on hot moments before or after that point. Highlights included Van’s ‘Sweet Thing’, all lit up with magic-realist violin moves, and a possessed ‘The Pan Within’. Later on, in the looser and more informal second show, the honours went to the stoned sorrows of ‘When Ye Go Away’ with its sparkling fiddle-piano interpolation of a Charlie Lennon reel, and a poolroom boogie version of ‘In Search Of A Rose’.
Steve Wickham’s return to the Waterboys fold after a ten-year hiatus is a crucial development; with classically trained keyboardist Richard Naiff occupying the third point of a trinity once fulfilled by Anto Thistlethwaite, it means the band can again come within striking distance of those remarkable late 1980s tours.