BEGINNING as a rock band, The Waterboys’ turn to folk in the late 1980s provided them with their biggest hits, particularly the Irish tradition-influenced Fisherman’s Blues album.
Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow
Star rating: * * *
But after they left the chart spotlight they reverted to a harder sound, particularly after the band split and then reformed to play what main man Mike Scott described as “sonic rock”. They’ve subsequently recorded more Celtic and acoustic music though, and the result of all this is a band with several distinct styles – and, at least in part, several distinct sets of fans to please.
Having toured Fisherman’s Blues for its 25th anniversary last year, perhaps Scott and his current cohorts (the band has had almost as many members passing through as The Fall) felt they needed to redress the balance, as this Magners Summer Sessions set leant heavily on their bluesy rock sound. With long guitar solos and keyboard freak-outs, this veered into prog territory at times, especially as Scott intoned Yeats’s poem The Second Coming over a frenzied, psychedelic backing. Less solemnly, he premiered a quick verse rejoicing in Jimmy Savile’s death.
When the band did perform their more straightforward material, it felt like their hearts weren’t quite in it – most notably in a frankly lacklustre version of their classic song The Whole Of The Moon. Many musicians get fed up “doing the hit” but with an appreciative crowd clearly gagging to let loose and sing along, Scott didn’t give the song the passion it deserved, especially in such a suitable outdoor setting with the moon itself shining above. Trotting along at a medium pace, it felt flat rather the joyous finale it should have been. Likewise, a ceilidh-style encore of A Bang On The Ear was just getting lively when the whole thing ended, not with a bang but a whimper.