The Waterboys, gig review

Hammersmith Apollo, London

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The Independent Culture

If you judge a gig by the cover versions, then this one was more than decent. We're treated to Hank Williams's “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry”, Bob Dylan's “Girl from the North Country” and, best of all, a giddy version of Van Morrison's “Sweet Thing”.

However, we're gathered here ostensibly to honour the Celtic folk outfit's crowning achievement, 1988's Fishermen's Blues, a romantic, wistful and vigorous record that blends folk, rock and country.

“The Eighties were so rubbish, a wasteland of synthesizers and stadium rock, so we had to invent our own music,” grumbles Mike Scott. So the 55-year-old frontman chose to channel traditional folk and his hero Hank Williams.

Tonight the svelte singer is helped hugely by Steve Wickham, who is the Waterboys' muscle with his sensational fiddle playing.

The experience sags a tad in the middle, particularly on the blues-infused “Tenderfootin'”,  but it's reinvigorated by the foot-tapping “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy, which comes across as superior ceilidh music.

The Waterboys are really at their most compelling when they keep things uptempo and the crowd's raucousness increases in intensity as Scott's band build towards the sublime ”Fishermen's Blues“ and ”The Whole of the Moon“, their big hit which despite its ubiquity remains a rousing anthem.