Mike Scott at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Picture by Ian D. Hall

L.S. Media Rating *****

Not content with releasing arguably the best album of 2011, it seems that The Waterboys will do anything to prove that they will be considered as the best live act to visit Liverpool this year.

When The Waterboys arrived on stage last year, the album An Appointment with Mr Yeats had not yet been released, the general public it could be said were not ready for the immense nature and dramatic prose that Mike Scott would unleash onto a packed out audience at the Philharmonic Hall. Now in 2012, the audience was just as sold out, the band were in just as excellent form but the gravity and enormity of the music was enjoyed, savoured and in the end the difference between poetic form and musical styling was blurred and mixed so well and with what turned out to be an even greater appreciation of the band.

The evening was split into two half with the second being dedicated to most of the songs from the aforementioned album and the first a celebration of the earlier songs that Mike Scott and the group laid the foundations down for a fantastic career.

Having been around in one form or another since 1983 there could have been any number of songs that the band played to the excitable audience, however the first part was blended together seamlessly with tracks unashamedly driving on the side of love ballads and songs that would melt the heart and the soul. This is not hard to imagine with the array of talent that fills the band these days especially with Steve Wickham on electric fiddle, the compliment it pays to Scott’s poetic lyrics is one of simply beauty, it is a sound that can fill the Philharmonic Hall on its own, surrounded by other instruments being played and by members of the bands it becomes an almost passionate, loving musical embrace.

The set list of the first half included the wonderful A Girl called Johnny, All the Things She Gave Me and the hauntingly serene How Long Will I Love You.

The second half, after a small moment in which Mike Scott proved himself to be one of the most professional and sincere men in music started off with the song The Hosting of the Shee, its big and excellent sound interweaved with the poetry of W.B. Yeats was in all honesty so unexpected. Recorded for all time on C.D. the music is like nothing else, its style is bold and rightly lauded by those that listen to it. On stage, it takes on a whole new level, you can sit and watch Mike Scott and you realise in a moment of stark realisation that this man really should have been a poet in the same vein as Yeats, his timing and dramatic stance are perfect and alongside a voice that resonates with powerful conviction on songs such as News for The Delphic Oracle, the sweet sound of White Birds and the political message of September 1913, you can see the man that maybe should have been.

That though would have taken away from the fan base and huge audience that The Waterboys have, songs that live long into the night and in their lives. Would it be worth swapping for a national poet worth his salt to lose these songs, certainly not!

The band came on stage to great applause at the start of the night, by the time the encores finished, which included a cracking version of Whole of the Moon, there wasn’t a person moved by what they had witnessed at the Philharmonic Hall.

A night of true musical poetry, it rarely gets better that this.

Ian D. Hall