Gig review: The Waterboys, Glasgow

Although The Waterboys’ much-loved Fisherman’s Blues was released 25 years ago, the process of representing the energy that the players put into the making of the album has been ongoing, with the six-CD Fisherman’s Blues being the latest and most comprehensive attempt to capture the freewheeling spirit of the recording sessions.

Mike Scott of the Waterboys. Picture: TSPL
Mike Scott of the Waterboys. Picture: TSPL
Mike Scott of the Waterboys. Picture: TSPL

The Waterboys - Barrowland, Glasgow

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So this live celebration was no track-by-track replay, but as close to a spontaneous ceilidh as circumstances would allow. The early part of the set was warm, intimate and low-key, blending organic originals and traditional tunes such as When Will We Be Married and The Raggle Taggle Gypsy with the occasional diversion into older territory, such as the piano/sax-led Celtic soul of Girl Called Johnny from their debut album and a not entirely successfully stripped-back Don’t Bang The Drum.

But as the concert progressed, willowy mystic Mike Scott and right-hand minstrels Steve Wickham, the stunning fiddle player who acts like a lead guitarist, and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Thistlethwaite showed off their powerhouse credentials on We Will Not Be Lovers and jam band proclivities on their cover of Van Morrison’s Sweet Thing.

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Then there was the deathless Fisherman’s Blues itself, still the greatest distillation of The Waterboys’ natural exuberance, supplemented here by the enthusiastic whooping of the crowd. The band channelled that carefree energy into their encores, finally transforming the show from an absorbing unplugged session into a feelgood festival-like experience.