OPEN HOUSE FESTIVAL: The Waterboys – Ulster Hall, Belfast

WB1 WB2 WB3 WB7 WB8First things first I will say that sometimes a venue can really help make a gig and the Ulster Hall certainly did this tonight with the visit of Mike Scott’s Waterboys as part of the Open House Festival.

The Ulster Hall is indeed an iconic venue and its Victorian features and solid wooden floor add so much to gigs which other newer venues can never come close to replicating.

It has been 20 odd years since I last saw the Waterboys and inspite of the departures since then of Karl Wallinger and Anthony Thistlethwaite, Mike Scott has kept alive the spirit of the Waterboys and can deliver a show that has something for everyone. The raggle taggle gyspy feel of “Fisherman’s Blues” and “Room to Roam” have long since disappeared and tonight were replaced by a much louder and rockier feel, which I for one truly enjoyed.

Opening with the mellow “Strange Boat” from Fisherman’s Blues Scott and his band of accomplished musicians,  making up the modern day Waterboys, cranked up the volume and delivered a range of songs taken from the band’s early recordings including Fisherman’s Blues, Killing my Heart, All the Things She Gave Me and The Pan Within.

One thing I will say is that it was obvious that the whole band enjoyed the experience of playing these tracks and put their heart and soul into every song.

Mike Scott is indeed a talented singer/songwriter and add to this a poet, philosopher and oft described as a musical troubadour he showed all sides of these traits tonight and ultimately will always find time in the show to indulge and lose himself in himself.

The rock feel disappeared for only one song with the band playing “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” showing that the spirit of Fisherman’s Blues and Room to Roam would always be part of the Waterboys fabric.

In a way we all knew what was coming when the band returned for their encore. They surprised us with the fabulous “How Long Will I Love You?” and ended the show with the only song they could end the show with, “The Whole of The Moon” guaranteeing that they sent home the packed Ulster Hall “picturing a rainbow and holding it in their hands”.

My only disappointment, and it’s just a selfish one, was that “Somebody Might Wave Back” was not included in the set but when you have a huge back catalogue to choose from some songs will obviously get lost.

To finish I think it’s safe to say that the audience tonight were treated to an excellent show at an excellent venue. Michael Ferguson, GiggingNI.com