The Waterboys
Tuesday 8th May 2018
@ Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

The first time I saw The Waterboys I very nearly didn’t.

They were playing Glastonbury 2015, and I loved The Whole of the Moon back in the day – I’d happy memories of singing along to it with friends when it came on the jukebox of Greyfriars Bobby or Sneaky Petes in Edinburgh.  (Though we had our own rude, adolescent twist on the title which we thought was hilarious at the time, funnily enough the ladies we wanted to impress, weren’t!)

But I didn’t know much of their other material, in those days you couldn’t just dip into Spotify to check out a band, none of my friends had any of their albums and I hadn’t heard them on the radio, so I didn’t really know much else about them, but feared they may be a kind of fiddly diddly Mumford and Sons kind of thing that wouldn’t be to my taste.

However, a friend with his pulse on the new music scene who tends to be bigging up new bands rather than looking back at established ones, surprised me when he said I should go and see The Waterboys.  I thought if he was recommending them then they were definitely worth checking out, so I’d catch a couple of songs before heading off to see The Young Fathers.

But their first song blew me away – much rockier than I expected from them, and they belted out song after song so full of energy that I was going nowhere!

I posted on Facebook about how unexpectedly great they were, and to my surprise Saffron Sprackling from Republica came on and said that The Waterboys were one of the best bands ever and Mike Scott is a genius songwriter.  I couldn’t disagree in the slightest!  I must admit that I was more than a little star-struck that Saffron had commented on my post!

Of course, sometimes at Glastonbury the cider and the vibe can overwhelm you, and exaggerate how good someone is, so I was keen to see tonight whether they would impress me as much at their own gig.


From the first song they rocked the place, everyone in the band gave it their all and had seemingly endless energy, a heady mix of Rock, Blues and Soul that kept the audience entertained all night.

They performed 2 x 1 hr sets.  The first hour was mainly up-tempo tunes whilst there were more ballad numbers in the 2nd.

One song early in the set (though unfortunately not in the first 3 songs, so I couldn’t photograph it) they were wearing venetian masks and at one point the violinist Steve Wickham was down on the floor gyrating with his violin in the way you might expect a guitarist – exhilarating stuff!

At one point in the second set, the audience started shouting out for their favourite song, good natured enough at first, but looked like it was going to get out of hand and I was worried that Mike Scott seemed a bit fed up with it at one point, though thankfully it passed without incident, probably just high spirits.

They have a song called “Nearest thing to Hip” that goes:

“It was the nearest thing to hip
It was the nearest thing to hip
In this sh*thole and it’s gone”

a lament to how the coolest clubs, record shops and so on, tend to be the ones that close down.  He called for an audience participation, though quickly clarified that it wasn’t about Liverpool!  Probably a good idea!

For the encore, they unsurprisingly finished with Whole of the Moon and Fisherman’s Blues – which had everyone on their feet, and leaving on a high.

I can’t recommend them highly enough!



Words + Pictures: John W. King