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The Waterboys at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Band showcase new album at a brace of gigs
Following their headline slot at the 2014 Moseley Folk Festival The Waterboys return to the Midlands in 2015 to launch their new album.

The band will showcase Modern Blues at Coventry's Warwick Arts Centre on February 2. The next day fans in London will hear the new songs live when The Waterboys play the album at The Roundhouse.

The Waterboys, Mike Scott, Modern Blues
Sent to Coventry: The Waterboys' mainman Mike Scott (pic: Paul McManus)

Modern Blues was recorded in Nashville, a musical hub that inspired band leader Mike Scott to not only recapture the magic of past Waterboys' albums but also to explore new ground.

"People should expect the unexpected from The Waterboys," he says. "I set out to make a record with an ensemble playing live, to get that performance spirit. It's how I recorded Fisherman's Blues."

To that end, he corralled old hands and new friends. Ralph Salmins, a mainstay on drums for the past four years, appears alongside Scott and talismanic Waterboy fiddler Steve Wickham.

Fresh to the ranks are Memphis keyboard player 'Brother' Paul Brown, and David Hood, legendary bassist from the heyday of FAME studios and Muscle Shoals.

"I've got the man who played on "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" on bass!" Mike laughs. "He and Paul had a huge impact on the sound."

The Waterboys, Mike Scott, Modern Blues

Asked why he chose to record in Nashville, Mike, who lives mostly in Dublin, explains: "Nashville has a reputation as Music City, USA, and I fancied some of that. It's one of the few cities that still has a recording studio industry intact, which brings the spur of competition. I know that across town Jack White's making a record, The Black Keys are making theirs. I like that competitive feeling, it's exciting. It's a spur."

The tracklisting for Modern Blues is: Destinies Entwined/ November Tale/ Still A Freak/ I Can See Elvis/ The Girl Who Slept For Scotland/ Rosalind (You Married The Wrong Girl)/ Beautiful Now/ Nearest Thing To Hip/ Long Strange Golden Road.

The Waterboys, Mike Scott, Modern Blues
From the vaults: The Waterboys at the time of recording Fisherman's Blues

The Waterboys are currently enjoying a burst of mainstream popularity. Ellie Goulding scored a top three UK hit with their How Long Will I Love You in 2013 and earlier this year Prince performed The Whole of the Moon solo at the piano during his Hit Runshow at Ronnie Scott's in London. The same song was performed by finalist Sally Barker on primetime BBC 1 show The Voice.

In recent times A Pagan Place has become a live staple for hot US indie band The War on Drugs, while other Waterboys' songs have been used in movies like About Time, Dom Hemingway and What We Did On Our Holiday.

On their first three albums The Waterboys, who formed in 1983, introduced their 'Big Music', culminating in 1985's sky-scraping This is the Sea.

Since then their music has evolved, from the hugely influential mix of Celtic folk, gospel, country and rock on the classic Fisherman's Blues, to the New York guitar sounds of Dream Harder, the sonic exploration of A Rock in the Weary Land, and the fired-up poetic passion of An Appointment with Mr Yeats, an album of 14 WB Yeats poems set to rapturous rock music.

The Waterboys, Mike Scott, Modern Blues
Archive: Mike Scott of The Waterboys

In 2013 the band released Fisherman's Box, a seven-disc collection of The Waterboys' epic Irish sessions between 1986 and 1988, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Fisherman's Blues.

A UK tour to support the release included a date at Birmingham's gig Alexandra Theatre. Read my review here.
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Why? Hear The Waterboys' new album live.
When: February 2, 2015
Phone: 024 7652 4524
Where: Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry
Cost: 28.50 & 30.50
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