New York City
December 4, 2003
Stating that (because fiddle player Steve Wickham was laid up back in Ireland after some minor surgery) "this is the smallest version of The Waterboys ever to grace the stage," Mike Scott and Richard Naiff delivered a tour de force acoustic show that was a pleasure to attend.
Although I will always prefer an electric show with a full band (bass, drums and electric guitars), Mike and Richard delivered an excellent show that was high on showmanship even if it was sparse on the number of musicians as well as song arrangements. The night began with Scott and Naiff slowly walking onto the bare stage (the setting featured no backdrop only a grand piano, a guitar and two microphones). Following Scott's explanation about Wickham's absence, the audience was energized as the two Waterboys struck the opening notes of "Universal Hall." As the first set rolled along, Scott's monologue explained much about the songs and their origin. He even joked with an audience member who was yelling responses to Mike's comments. Scott quickly responded to one of the fan's comments and attempts at humor with a good-natured quip of his own ("Are you the spokesman for the audience?"). During this first set the duo played "Every Breath Is Yours," "Bring 'Em All In," "I've Lived Here Before," "Sweet Thing/Blackbird" (which included Mike's story about the band's last New York show how he couldn't sleep following the gig and ended walking on a pier on the Hudson River at 4:30 in the morning), "Life Of Sundays," "Ain't No Words" and many others. Though the tempo of the first set was slower than expected, it was building as it came to a close.
After a 30 minute intermission, a revitalized Scott and Naiff bounded onto the stage. During this second set, Scott added his own brand of theatrics to almost every song and monologue. He wandered about and acted out various portions of the songs and his storytelling was much more introspective. The second set included: "Gala," "The Pan Within," "Love & Death," "Sustain," Long Way to the Light" and "Don't Bang The Drum" during which an interesting thing happened. Scott was obviously unhappy with the sound emitting from the guitar he was playing. He stopped and waited for a stagehand to bring out another guitar and take away the offending instrument. He then announced that, "I just love playing this song and I need to play it right." He and Richard then launched into a beautiful version of the song. The second set ended with a wonderful version of "Fisherman's Blues."
Next was the encores. The crowd was fervently expecting "Whole Of the Moon," "Come Live With Me" and possibly "I Am The Sea." While they got "Come Live With Me" and the wonderful B-side "Always Dancing," the lights came up without so much as a snippet of "I Am The Sea." Sadly, "Whole Of The moon" wasn't played either. And, while that was the bad news (along with the news of the convalescing Wickham) The Waterboys again proved that they are a force to be reckoned with and are a terribly underappreciated band. The good news is that despite poor publicity (Town Hall's marquee didn't so much as mention who was playing) and a 3/4 filled house, The Waterboys performed as though the place was sold-out and the audience was totally enthralled.
Visit the Waterboys on the web at www.mikescottwaterboys.com .