LIVE REVIEW: The Waterboys @ Sage Gateshead (29.05.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Xavier Mercade

The Waterboys never disappoint, and tonight they’re back with yet another new LP and an energetic two hour set for the North East faithful.

Frontman Mike Scott combines a healthy dose of cynicism with a sharp sense of humour and his laid-back persona is the perfect foil to both Steve Wickham’s extraordinary fiddle playing and ‘Brother’ Paul Brown’s exuberance on keys. Brown is always a complete joy to watch and is given the opportunity to take the limelight with a series of magnificent solos which wow the crowd, even if Scott gently mocks by telling him “that was absolutely… quite good”.

Meanwhile, anyone dubious about the presence of two backing singers must surely be won over by their performances, as Jess Kav in particular sounds spectacular and both girls inject some extra energy with their dancing, especially when Wickham throws some shapes on the opposite side of the stage to instigate a bit of competition. A mention also for Ralph Salmins, whose drum heartbeat makes for a haunting rendition of Old England – a track over three decades old but whose lyrics have never been more apt, proven when Scott ad-libs a line about throwing milkshakes.

If the first half of the show belongs to Brother Paul and his euphoric key solos the second belongs to Wickham, now resplendent in violet frock coat, who pirouettes on the spot weaving his magic on the strings and brings old favourite Raggle Taggle Gypsy to life in an enchanting duet with Scott.

With latest album Where The Action Is released under a week ago, it’s understandable that not everyone in the Sage knows the songs yet and a few of the louder audience members make it known that they’d prefer to hear more of the classics. Fisherman’s Blues is of course played to perfection and Whole of the Moon the only possible finale. But it’s songs like the foot-stomping, full-on rock ‘n’ roll of London Mick and the funky, spoken groove of Take Me There which steal the show, and when the new material is this strong the band won’t be losing any sleep over such heckles.

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