I've got a bit of a backlog of live recordings to share, so I'm going forego my "once a week" tradition and just let them loose as they're ready...
I'll admit up front that I lost complete track of Mike Scott and his Waterboys for oh, about fifteen years or so. I initially discovered them as many on U.S. shores likely did, back when U2 invited them along to open some dates in the mid-80's, and kept playing their songs as tour intro music for months afterwards. I think the first time I heard "The Whole Of The Moon" (which I still count among my favorite songs) was waiting for U2 to take the stage in Montreal in 1987, and picked up the Waterboys' third album (and last featuring future World Party frontman Karl Wallinger), the sweeping "This Is The Sea", shortly after that gig. My love for that record (yes, when it was actually a record) prompted me to grab their self-titled 1981 debut and the sophomore "A Pagan Place", though I was not nearly as struck by those two, nor by 1988's "Fisherman's Blues". I liked them well enough, but found myself going back to "This Is The Sea" far more frequently.
By the time 1990's "Room To Roam" came out, my musical tastes had drastically transformed, and the Waterboys fell off my radar until a two-disc remastered version of "This Is The Sea" was issued in 2004, inspiring me to finally replace my well-worn vinyl copy. In the intervening years, I discovered the band had released a few more albums, a couple of greatest hits collections, as well as a live disc.
Which brings us to the Waterboys, present-day. Mike Scott and his mates are still making music, and in August released a new disc called "Book of Lightning" on Decca Records (it came out in the UK in April). The five-piece (a lineup that has changed a bit over the years) just kicked off a short North American tour for the album last night here in Boston, with a stop tonight at Webster Hall in NYC, and winding up in San Francisco on the 13th. While I didn't see them play here last night, the band is back on my mind after a free, WBOS-sponsored acoustic show they put on at the First Act Guitar Studio back in late August. Mike was joined by longtime collaborators Steve Wickham on fiddle and Richard Naiff on keys, and the trio ran through a full set of songs, most from the new album, with a few old ones and an excellent Willie Nelson cover as well (alas, no "Whole of the Moon", but I won't fault them for skipping the obvious). No doubt about it, Mike Scott still has that voice, and as when Dinosaur Jr. played an in-store earlier this year, I've got much respect for a band who will give it their all for even a small (and non-paying) crowd. No three-or-four-song token performance was this.
During an in-set anecdote, Mike off-handedly said "... just as people might bootleg this concert", and he was right on. Here's the full Waterboys set. Tour dates are below, and I'll share a couple of Mike's anecdotes down there as well...
You'll notice that the last song, "Bring 'Em All In", is stopped and started again, and this was a deliberate choice by Scott, who was suddenly inspired to slow it down. Before the restart, he told us of his late-seventies obsession with Patti Smith bootlegs (he was "mad about them", but not mad angry... mad crazy). He'd collect recordings from the same tour and be fascinated how the band would slow certain songs down (specifically, Smith's "Kimberly") from rockers to heavy, powerful dirges. So in the middle of "Bring 'Em All In", that's exactly what he decided to do... slow it down and give it the "Kimberly-treatment".
While the song "The Crash of Angel Wings" is a new one, its title has been around since 1982. Back then (and this was news to me), Mike was in a short-lived band called The Red & The Black with bass player Matthew Seligman (who would go on to be one of the Soft Boys with Robyn Hitchock), eventual Waterboys Anthony Thistlethwaite on sax, and Kevin Wilkinson (who would later play in Squeeze, and sadly commited suicide in 1999) on drums. All four bandmates would actually end up contributing to "This Is The Sea". The reason for the history lesson? It was Soft Boy Seligman who came up with the song title "The Crash of Angel Wings", and it took Mike Scott a mere 25 years to use it. And as of this late August performance, he still hadn't told him.
the fine print... If anyone has an issue with these Mp3s being made available, just let me know (my contact info in the 'nac faq). Live sets recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps Mp3s. Files are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.