Nancy Hogg reports on The Waterboys – Cambridge Corn Exchange, 26 Apr 2007

Artist Visiting Cambridgeshire
Skippered by Mike Scott, and with myriad line-ups stretching back to 1983, The Waterboys returned to The Corn Exchange on Thursday night to bestow ‘The Big Music' on an enthusiastic crowd.

With a back catalogue as vast and accomplished as theirs it was hard to imagine where they would start and how long it would be before the roar of recognition at the opening bars of The Whole of the Moon. Would the night be a greatest hits affair or simply devoted to showcasing the new album, Book of Lightning? Somehow it managed to be both and a whole lot more.

Highlights of the new album included She Tried to Hold Me and Strange Arrangement. They skip from intensely personal love songs to student anthems seamlessly and an extended version of Old England sounds as pristine and relevant now as it did in 1985.

Throughout the night they combine energetic showmanship with effortless musicality. An extended and rousing version of Red Army Blues sees the stage swathed in red light, whilst the encore of Fisherman's Blues sees the band leaping about the stage with a loose but vigorous choreography. Indeed, fiddler Steve Wickham, described by Mike Scott as his ‘musical soul mate', leaps around the stage with an energy rarely seen in men half his age.

With titles such as The Pan Within and The Glastonbury Song it would be easy for the cynic to accuse The Waterboys of a clichéd new age philosophy. However, despite their fervent celebration of all things spiritual they never sound mawkish or preachy. Instead, it is clear that The Waterboys genuinely connect with everything they sing about and, in doing so, connect with their audience as only a truly great band can.

Writer: Nancy Hogg