I’m not sure I can remember the last time I saw a band open with not one, not two, but three consecutive songs taken from an album released just a couple of weeks before. What might be deemed a fatally optimistic move for some bands, manages to work for Mike Scott and crew. The band’s latest rollicking, folk-strewn rock and roll material sweeps the audience out to the high seas inhabited by The Waterboys and contained, for a night, by the Roundhouse.
Opening track Destinies Entwined is followed by Still A Freak, with the laid back murmur of November Tale seeping into third position.
Despite the crowd’s appreciation of the new songs, there’s a palpable joy at later moments in the set when the band draw on their first album, with A Girl Called Johnny and The Three Day Man, the latter of which, Scott announces, hasn’t been played in London since 1984.
Swapping between guitar and keyboard, Scott cuts a striking presence at the heart of the band, suitably counterpointed by fiddler Steve Wickham, who moves energetically around the stage as he plays.
Scott seems impressed by the grand surroundings of this legendary setting and recalls how he saw Marianne Faithfull at the Roundhouse when he was young.
There’s a distinctly Dylanesque twang to the overall delivery of some of the songs from the new album Modern Blues, which is heavily covered tonight, and as the evening draws on, we are lifted to other shores with the band’s watery themes, conveying love, loss and regret.
The glorious 1985 hit single The Whole of The Moon sets the venue alight and is quickly followed by Don’t Bang The Drum, from the same album This Is The Sea.
The encore begins with the unlikely but most welcome Prince cover, Purple Rain. Finally we are cast out with the poetic ocean swirl of Fisherman’s Blues – surely, this is one of those songs everyone should have the pleasure of hearing live at least once in their lifetime.
The Waterboys continue to hold a uniquely romantic and wild place at the edge of rock and roll. Long may they sail on…
Words and photographs by Imelda Michalczyk. Imelda has her own website here: www.rebeladelica.com