- 15 Aug 18
As The Waterboys get ready to perform at Bulmers Live at Leopardstown, Steve Wickham ponders their endless push to avoid repeating themselves, and recalls an evening in the company of Shane MacGowan and hundreds of close personal friends.
From the byways of Edinburgh to the verdant reaches of the west of Ireland, via New York, Dublin, Memphis, Findhorn Bay and most everywhere between, what a long strange trip it's been for The Waterboys. As Hot Press catches up with the Celtic troubadours, their latest port of call is a village in the far south of Norway where the mountains are dramatic, the lakes dark and mysterious.
"The people here are very tall and very blonde," says violin player and long-time Waterboy Steve Wickham, "and they used to do this thing where they would clap slowly to show you how much they loved what you are doing. 'It's a slow handclap, but it means 'We love you'. When we first came about 30 years ago, they used to do it. Now it seems to have died out. They just go nuts like everybody else."
The Waterboys are not a band to sit still. Having more or less invented big-sky pop early in their career and later spliced epic rock and Irish folk on Fisherman's Blues, lately the group, led by the indefatigable Mike Scott, have set sail for even more eclectic waters. Memphis-style retro rock was the defining characteristic of 2015's Modern Blues, while last year's Out Of All This Blue incorporated hip hop, beatbox and electronica and yet somehow cleaved to the Waterboys' wonder-filled tradition.