The Waterboys London Palladium |[27 April 2018] Concert Review

The Waterboys have a pretty impressive back catalogue of tunes, so what would they choose to delight us with?  They have tried so many varied musical styles since their inception and believe me tonight they didn’t disappoint a pretty much full house at the London Palladium.  We are in the presence of two genius’s in the shape of Mike Scott and Steve Wickham, old sparing Celtic folkies playing good old time R’n’R.

As always, Mike wears a hat during performances, very dapper indeed.  They are always nicely tilted over this glasses and I’m guessing it really helps to keep the spotlights our of his eyes.  Steve also wears a selection of hats, but always with sunglasses!  For the first set Mike has a nice blue suit and for the second set he goes all cowboy Americana, a nod to his experiences and influences of his time in the states.

Mike gives an exemplary performance, his voice and passion as fierce as ever, on guitar and keyboards.  ‘Don’t bang the Drum’ with just Steve on fiddle and Mike on piano was earth shatteringly haunting and boy what a noise the two of them made – worth the entrance fee alone!

This tour sees them out as a seven-piece (two singers) sort of promoting last year’s ‘Out Of All This Blue’ triple LP (of which I have a signed copy – big smile!).  Now my wife and I were chuckling at the resemblance of some members of the band to other relatively famous people e.g. on bass = Josh Homme; on keyboards ‘Brother’ Paul Brown = 1960s bastard offspring of Tiny Tim/John Gorman; on drums Ralph Salmins = Roy Kinnear.  Mike and Steve are themselves on course!

The evening is split into two halves (8:00 – 9:00 and 9:25 – 10:30) with a 25-minute intermission which gives the band time to change clothes and have a well-earned rest after a rollickingly powerful heavy hitting first set (well none of us are getting any younger are we?).  They started loud and pretty much continued in that rock-oriented vein throughout with Steve and the flamboyant American keyboardist ‘Brother’ Brown getting chances to show off their skills with extended jams.  Mike makes sure not to hog the limelight whilst the sublime Steve Wickham fiddles (tee-hee couldn’t resist that one) and Paul tinkles on the ivory’s as if his life depended on it.

We start at the beginning with the classic ‘Medicine Bow’ and rocking ‘All the Things She Gave Me’ before Mike does a little 30 second ditty on guitar “We’re at the London Palladium coz we couldn’t sell enough tickets for Wembley Stadium”.  “They are all love songs” Mike announces as they launch into ‘We will not be lovers’ a rhythmic almost Shaman like trance of a song – turn up the volume and let it flow through you. Only 4 songs in, can it possibly get any better than that?  The next bunch of songs are more recent, from the last two LPs and non-the less any less enthralling.  Now from the banter it would appear that Mike and ‘Brother’ Paul Brown get on rather well, so much so that Mike wrote the next song about him – yes folks ‘Nashville, Tennessee’ and literally in Paul’s case “My soul is in Memphis, But my ass is in Nashville, Tennessee”!  Keyboard players need to do something to steal the limelight, and Paul does it to aplomb – hair, attire, enthusiasm, gestures and southern drawl accent (yes, he needed sub-titles) – a typical over the top American.

The second set is far more sedate by comparison and goes back to his Celtic, folky, mystic roots.  Plenty of tunes that are more 12 string acoustic and fiddle based such as on ‘The Christ In You’, ‘When Ye Go Away’.  Alas ‘Too Close to Heaven’ is slightly spoiled by the constant squeaking sound of Mike moving his fingers along the strings in-between chord changes – a problem all guitarists will have come across when the same chord shape moves along the frets quickly.  Mike and Steve have the stage to themselves for songs 16 & 17 (see the set list below along with associated statistics) and then the band re-appears to finish with an extended full on version of ‘Long Strange Golden Road’.  Class act, tight band, totally immersive and enjoyable gig A+!

Set 1 (Click on links to view the YouTube videos in 4k)

  1. Medicine Bow – (This is the Sea, 1985)The Waterboys - Out of all this Blue UK tour 2018
  2. All the Things She Gave Me – (A Pagan Place, 1984)
  3. If the Answer Is Yeah – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)
  4. A Girl Called Johnny – (The Waterboys, 1983)
  5. We Will Not Be Lovers – (Fisherman’s Blues, 1988)
  6. Nashville, Tennessee – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)
  7. Still a Freak – (Modern Blues, 2015)
  8. Man, What a Woman – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)
  9. Morning Came Too Soon – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)

Set 2

  1. The Christ in You – (Universal Hall, 2003)Waterboys Set List Statistics 27 Apr 2018
  2. When Ye Go Away – (Fisherman’s Blues, 1988)
  3. Dunford’s Fancy – (Fisherman’s Blues, 1988)
  4. Nearest Thing to Hip – (Modern Blues, 2015)
  5. Santa Fe – (Out of All This Blue, 2017)
  6. Too Close to Heaven – (Too Close to Heaven, 2001)
  7. The Raggle Taggle Gypsy – (Room to Roam, 1990)
  8. Don’t Bang the Drum – (This is the Sea, 1985)
  9. Long Strange Golden Road – (Modern Blues, 2015)

EncoreSet list for mixing desk - not followed!!

  1. The Whole of the Moon – (This is the Sea, 1985)

They finished with only one encore ‘The Whole of The Moon’ which was somewhat lacklustre to my mind (although the audience were all on their feet, dancing and singing along and having a jolly good time) and totally outshone by much that came before it.  With so many other classic songs not even aired perhaps Mike might have the balls to consider omitting this track in future?

I’m kind of glad they never really made it into the big league, given Mike’s talent they really should have been much bigger, but on the flip side we get to see them close up and personal in decent sized venues without the need of field glasses!

I love The Waterboys, I have the majority of their output, and have now seen them 7 times since 1989.  Keep going Mike, you are rare & precious but certainly not gone!

Marko [28 April 2018]

Jethro Tull Live Review – Royal Albert Hall 18 April 2018

A bit of history to start – over the years there have been 36 band members with Ian (now 70) the sole remaining member of the original 1968 line-up.  Their first gig was 2nd Feb 1968 at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street.  Prog rock royalty, playing at the Royal Albert Hall – ‘last night of the proms’ anyone?  So here we are on the 50th Anniversary tour.

Stage left keyboards and bass, stage right drums and lead guitar, yes you guessed it Ian in the middle!  The backdrop was the biggest damn video screen I’ve seen (covering the full stage) – take note other artists!  The gig started promptly at 19:30 with a mock TV screen showing clips of world and music events from 1968.  Tull in their youth were undoubtedly a hairy and crazy eyed bunch if ever there was one.  Think bad backcomb dragged through hedge backward look with beard housing various hedgerow creatures.  It was a two-set affair 19:30 – 21:45pm (with a 15 minute interval).

The band comprised – David Goodier (bass), John O’Hara (keyboards), Florian Opahle (guitar), Scott Hammond (drums) and surprise virtual guests courtesy of the video screen.  But the star is Anderson, a consummate professional with towering stage presence.  All eyes are drawn to him like magnets.

I must go on about the video screen it was bloody great.  Easy to view from all angles and heights and constantly in use with great videos depicting the songs; Tull performing in front of screen footage of their younger hairier selves playing the same songs (Ian syncing the lyrics to the background vocals – obviously been practicing that until perfect!); guest vocalists singing part of songs and various R’n’R celebs popping by to say Hi and introduce their favourite songs.  Really, they have thought this through to perfection – none of these fancy graphics just floating around the screen.  It all really added to the spectacle, stunning – well done chaps!  A nice touch and very 21st century as opposed to the 18th  – best check out who Jethro Tull really was (blame their agent for the name)!

Ian was on top form with his amusing anecdotes, song introductions, flute/guitar playing and general prancing about only in the way he can on stage.  His energy, stage presence and wacky sense of humour is just perfect for a well-spoken country gentleman.  His only let down is his own distinctive voice as many of the lyrics are lost and not every note is clearly audible, which wasn’t helped by the voice mix being below that of the other instruments.  But you can’t complain at 70 it’s not going to be the same as many years before. Even he knows not to try to reach certain notes, and for the tricky ones he uses guest singers on the video screen.

Jethro Tull – Royal Albert Hall [17 April 2018] – 50th Anniversary tour
We start off right at the beginning with 5 songs from 1968 including the first 4 songs from the ‘This Was’ LP.   Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond popped up on the big screen to say hello and introduce ‘A Song for Jeffrey’.  Then Ian goes into ‘Dharma For One’, previously a Clive Bunker mega drum solo, that had a much briefer workout from Scott Hammond thank god (from someone that had to sit through a Ian Paice one recently!).

Then the oft-told tale of how manager Terry Ellis asked him to write a hit single to keep the home fires burning back in Blighty whilst on their American tour.  So off he goes to his hotel room thinking sod this I’ll write something totally uncommercial in 5/4 time.  As Ian said “well bugger me senseless with a red hot poker” when it went to no. 3 in the UK charts – yes folks ‘Living in the Past’.  He also recalls when Tull became unlikely targets of middle America bible-bashers, who took a dim view of My God. “It wasn’t intended to give offence,” he insists, “maybe I wrote it wrong”.

Joe Bonamassa introduced ‘A New Day Yesterday’; Tony Iommi ‘Bourree’; Steve Harris ‘A Passion Play’; Joe Elliott ‘Ring Out, Solstice Bells’; John Evans ‘Heavy Horses’ and Slash ‘Aqualung’.   Conspicuous by their absence the colourful Dee (formerly David) Palmer, and second longest-serving member Martin Barre.

Now being a total bore I did an Excel Pivot table and these are the results 75% of songs were from their first 6 years. The first set spanning only 3 years.  The band has an extensive back catalogue but Ian obviously thinks their best stuff was clearly done early on.

Set 2 starts with an abridged version of Thick as a Brick (i.e. the best bits). At 70, he is still sprightly and can still stand on one leg and play the flute like no other! The set gets heavier (and in my humble opinion much better) as it progresses, with ‘Heavy Horses’, ‘Farm on the Freeway’ and ‘Aqualung’ where young sprog Florian Opahle can show of his guitar solos.
Finally, the encore, the screen shows old American and UK steam trains thundering down tracks and yes you guessed it ‘Locomotive Breath’.

Set 1: (Click on links to view video – update YouTube have removed them due to Licencing!!)

  1. My Sunday Feeling – (This Was, 1968)Jethro Tull 50 Anniversary 2018
  2. Love Story – (Living in the Past, 1972 – 1968 Single)
  3. A Song for Jeffrey – (This Was, 1968)
  4. Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine for You – (This Was, 1968)
  5. Dharma for One – (This Was, 1968)
  6. Living in the Past – (Living in the Past, 1972 – 1969 Single)
  7. A New Day Yesterday – (Stand Up, 1969)
  8. Bourrée in E minor – (Stand Up, 1969)
  9. With You There to Help Me (Benefit 1970) / The Witch’s Promise (Benefit 2001 version)
  10. My God – (Aqualung, 1970)
  11. Cross-Eyed Mary – (Aqualung, 1970)
    Set 2:
  12. Thick as a Brick excerpt – (Thick as a Brick, 1972)Jethro Tull 50 Anniversary UK Tour 2018
  13. A Passion Play – excerpt (A Passion Play, 1973)
  14. Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Too Young to Die – (Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!, 1976)
  15. Songs From the Wood – (Songs from the Wood, 1977)
  16. Ring Out, Solstice Bells – (Songs from the Wood, 1977)
  17. Heavy Horses – (Heavy Horses, 1978)
  18. Farm on the Freeway – (Crest of a Knave, 1987)
  19. Aqualung – (Aqualung, 1970)
  20. Locomotive Breath – (Aqualung, 1970)

The packed out RAH audience was mainly people of a certain age (grey hair or bald diehard Tull fans) with a healthy spattering of ladies.  All pretty much knew all the words to the songs which were all greeted with affection and much applause.  The audience responded with a well-deserved standing ovation and were talking very fondly about it all the way to the tube!

Marko – 18 April 2018