- 09 Jul 03
Of the two shows, the first was characterised by a more formal atmosphere, and under scrutiny the band concentrated harder. The second was looser and more given to mischief.
You could’ve tagged The Waterboys’ two sets in the church-like atmosphere of Universal Hall as homecoming shows, except Mike Scott can now play the prodigal returned in a good half dozen territories across the world. And if he skips between town and country, the music also veers from cinematic rock to fireside folk.
Perhaps this is why the band have had more drummers than Spinal Tap, requiring either roundhousers like Jay Dee Daugherty, Jim Keltner and current hireling Geoff Dugmore, or light-fingered master thieves like Noel Bridgeman. Thus far, only Fran Breen and perhaps Peter McKinney have reconciled the poles, rhyming subtle with muscle.
But the current Waterboys set-list seems to have helped solve the dichotomy. The first half of each show sees the frontline of Scott, fiddler Steve Wickham and classically trained keyboardist Richard Naiff exploring the relationships between balladry, folk song and chamber music on the sparser tunes, gradually building in intensity until they are joined by bassist Brad Waissman for the still effervescent ‘Sweet Thing’/‘Blackbird’ segue, which fuses Van’s early free jazz to his later rustic works, and the rarely aired Yeats adaptation ‘Love And Death’.