Mike Scott & the Waterboys – A Personal History from ‘Alice Cooper was my Gran’

Alice Cooper was my Gran

Alice Cooper was my Gran

” Anything planned for the weekend?” “Yeah I’m off too York to see a group called the Waterboys”……(Silence)…… “You might have heard of a song called The Whole of the Moon?” “Yes i think i remember that one, wow are they still going!”

(Over the years the above conversation has taken place on several occasions, the last time it took place was just before the Waterboys Gig on November 13th 2015 in York)

The Waterboys is quite misleading in its self as The Waterboys are predominately Mike Scott with a visiting cast , a cast whose number is currently 82, over the years there have been long term collaborators including Anthony Thistlethwaite , Karl Wallinger and the Man on Electric Fiddle Steve Wickham, Mike Scott himself has even taken a break from the group while releasing several Mike Scott Solo Albums, There are a lot misnomers’ surrounding Mike Scott, a man who after releasing The Waterboys hugely acclaimed third Album ” This is the Sea ” supposedly turned his back on fame and took himself off to the west coast of Ireland for 3 years to submerge himself in “Irish roots Music”.

York: 13 Nov 2015

York: 13 Nov 2015

During an article in the Guardian in 2007 Mike Scott said this about fame.

So fame and I have circled each other warily for the past two decades. We’ve come to an accommodation, of sorts: fame knows I won’t tart for her, and I know that fame, monster that she can be, requires careful handling and respect.

What further complicates our relationship is that I’m a private person. I love being on stage before an audience, but I like to walk the streets anonymously. And while I welcome criticism of my work, I object to being defined; if false ideas, motives or deeds are attributed to me, I bristle.

The irony around that fourth Album is it contains The Waterboys biggest hit to date “Fishermans Blues”. Mike Scott’s love of Ireland and the music that swirls through every Lough and Glen comes from the early summers spent at the Yeats summer school in Sligo, Scott’s mum who was an English teacher had a love of the poets work, a poet Scott would go onto quote and even perform several of Yeats work well before the 2001 release “An appointment with Yeats”.

In fact in an attempt to put right some of the mis information out there Mike Scott anonymously signed up to his own Wikipedia page, he was unable to correct the mis information as the custodian of the page told him in no uncertain terms that if he could not reference the information then it would not stay on the page, he later revealed himself to the editor, who was pleased he had taken the time to contribute but he still needed to reference the information.

York: 13 Nov 2015

York: 13 Nov 2015

Mike Scott and “The Big Music”

The Waterboys first 3 Albums were all in search of “The Big Music” on the Album “This is the sea” Scott had found what he had been hearing all his life, Scott in his own 2012 biography “An adventure of a Waterboy” describes how he would here this music in his head often beating out the rhythms in often annoyingly repetition to the people around him and from the opening track on This is the Sea its obvious that he had found The big Music he had been searching for , a music with vast melodies that occupy even vaster sound scapes surrounded by infinite space, from its opening track “Don’t bang the Drum” until the albums title track “This is the Sea” Scott takes you on a journey through a world inhabited by William Butler Yeats, Robbie Burns and William Blake, dreaming of “unicorns and cannonballs, palaces and piers / Trumpets, towers and tenements, wide oceans full of tears”.

The West coast of Ireland and the Waterboys become a “Celtic Rock Band”?

So how do you become a Celtic rock artist, easy just include some traditional Celtic instruments and traditional arrangements, throw into the mix some electric guitars and a saxophone and there you are all wrapped up for the Music press to misrepresent your work for at least a decade.

The recording of Fishermans Blues began in January 1986 and it was not completed until July 1988, the album is based around lots of live session recordings, These session often turned into huge jamming sessions, The Waterboys arrived in Galway in April 87 and based themselves at Spiddal house a huge rambling Victorian mansion overlooking the wild Atlantic, the musicians all based themselves around the area travelling in every day to play there parts, so for three months they played and not only at Spiddal , they joined in with the community at every possible occasion and all most became the house band at the many hostelries in the area.

The Troubadour

I have seen the Waterboys a lot from acoustic sets to full electric sets to half and half sets, to full blues shows to An Evening with Yeats where he put some of the poets verses to music. Mike Scott always seams to be playing live somewhere, he is a true modern troubadour, dont always expect the hits when you go to see the Waterboys, what you will get is one of the tightest bands you will see. The gig on November the 13th became special for lots of reasons, firstly the Band were absolutely in tune with their audience and the audience with them, after an encore of Scott’s version of Purple Rain and as the band took a final bow the audience started to sing to the band, Mike Scott was genuinely taken back, he stood and took it all in, turned and walked off. I left the theatre elated and full of the type of feelings that only watching a live band can give you.

If The Waterboys are ever playing a Theatre near you or there in the next field at the festival you are at then i can strongly recommend you go and catch them, if you are not familiar with their back catalogue and you are wondering where to start I have listed some of my favourite Waterboy tunes:

  1. A girl called Johnny From The Album The Waterboys ( 1982 )
  2. Church not made with hands From The Album Pagan Place (1984 )
  3. Pagan Place From The Album of the same name ( 1984 )
  4. All the Things she Gave Me From The Album Pagan Place (1984)
  5. Don’t Bang the Drum From The Album This is the Sea ( 1985 )
  6. The Pan Within From the Album This is the Sea (1985)
  7. This Is the Sea From The Album of the same name ( 1985 )
  8. Beverly Penn From The This is the Sea outtake Album ( 1985 )
  9. We Will Not Be Lovers From The Album Fisherman’s Blues ( 1988 )
  10. World Party From the Album Fisherman’s Blues ( 1988 )
  11. The Stolen Child From The Album Fisherman’s Blues ( 1988 )
  12. How Long Will I Love You? From the Album Room to Roam ( 1990 )
  13. A Man Is in Love From the Album Room to Roam ( 1990 )
  14. Peace of Iona From the Album Universal Hall ( 2003 )
  15. You in the Sky From the Album Book of Lightening ( 2007 )
  16. White Birds From the Album An Appointment with Mr Yeats ( 2011 )
  17. Sweet Dancer  From the Album An Appointment with Mr Yeats ( 2011 )
  18. An Irish Airman Foresees His Death From the Album An Appointment with Mr Yeats ( 2011)
  19. I can see Elvis From The Album Modern Blues ( 2015 )
  20. Long Strange Golden Road From The Album Modern Blues ( 2015 )

The Waterboys Live at Glastonbury from 2015

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