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Band's classic 1988 album revisited
The capacity audience at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre enjoyed a night of nostalgia as The Waterboys marked the 25th anniversary of the release of their fourth studio album, Fisherman's Blues.
It may have taken the crowd until the final song of the main set to get to their feet but then they were rewarded with two superb encores that included the band's first UK hit, The Whole Of The Moon, a wistful How Long Will I Love You and a joyous And A Bang On The Ear.
Strange Boat began the show with main man Mike Scott alone on stage with an acoustic guitar. As the song proceeded he was joined by fiddler Steve Wickham, drummer Ralph Salmins and, for this tour only, mandolin/ saxophone player Anthony Thistlewaite and bassist Trevor Hutchinson who were both on the Fisherman's Blues album which saw the band move more towards folk, Celtic and bluegrass music.
Wistful: The Waterboys' frontman Mike Scott (pic: Paul MacManus)
Most bands would have performed the album from start to finish, but not The Waterboys. They've just released a six CD collection of 121 tracks recorded during the Fisherman's Blues sessions so we were treated to a selection of those, alongside songs from the original record.
''Fisherman's Blues was just a sampler, the Fisherman's Box is the real album,'' frontman Mike Scott announced.
And what great songs they are. Stranger To Me is a Hank Williams homage written by Mike, and we also got his version of Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. Tenderfootin' featured brilliant sax from Anto, while Girl From The North Country is a respectful Dylan cover.
Other highlights were the band's version of Ray Charles' Come Live With Me preceded by Mike Scott's recollection of how he used it to woo a prospective girlfriend (it worked!) and a mandolin/ fiddle dual during We Will Not Be Lovers.
Fans of The Waterboys' 'Big Music' of their first three albums were not forgotten with a back to basics Don't Bang The Drum and a soaring Girl Called Johnny.
Cover: The Fisherman's Blues sleeve was recreated on stage in Birmingham
The show's backdrop was a picture of the ivy-covered house as seen on the original album sleeve. At the end of the show the band and crew recreated the cover by striking the same pose at the front of the stage. A memorable end to an unforgettable night.
SET LIST Strange Boat Higherbound You in the Sky A Girl Called Johnny
Girl From The North Country
Stranger To Me
When Ye Go Away
When Will We Be Married?
Come Live With Me
The Raggle Taggle Gypsy
We Will Not Be Lovers
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
Don't Bang The Drum
On My Way To Heaven
Dunford's Fancy (Fiddle solo)
The Whole of the Moon
How Long Will I Love You?
And A Bang On The Ear
The Waterboys UK Tour Dates:
Dec 15: Oxford New Theatre;
Dec 16: Glive, Guildford;
Dec 17: Colston Hall, Bristol;
Dec 18: Hammersmith Apollo, London.