Imagine going to see a band you love. Imagine strolling up to the venue ten minutes before they come on stage, because you’ve been enjoying a leisurely drink in the pub beforehand. Imagine not having to conform to an orderly line, or not having to agonise over the number of wrist bands available. Imagine not fretting about forgetting your poncho, or sun cream.
Imagine not worrying that the rain is making the paint on your sign run, saturating the cardboard and creating a floppy squidgy mess. Imagine not having to panic because you’ve accidentally smudged the damp paint all down the back of the person in front of you, their white vintage Springsteen t-shirt smeared with your own selfish and desperate plea to hear a song they may not even like. Yep.
Imagine being in the stalls, but having a seat! A seat with a number and letter, so you can go to the bathroom before the concert starts, and then easily find your friend again without getting lost in a maze of tired fans squashed together, waiting. And waiting.
Mike Scott and The Waterboys recently toured to re-perform their 1988 album Fisherman’s Blues. I bought the tickets 6 months ago and in some ways, it’s terrible to say, but I wished my time away. Wished the days away at least, because it would mean their concert was closer. That’s how excited I was. I’d never seen them live, but I’d been listening to their albums for years.
I took my seat, and for the next two hours I was completely blown away. The opening, Mike Scott, lead Waterboy, slowly singing about a Strange Boat, a strange sea, a strange cargo, a strange shore. Simple, but beautiful.
I can’t go into details, I’d do a bad job, I wouldn’t do it justice – I admit I don’t have the knowledge. I know there was a fiddle, and there was also a mandolin. I sat back and listened to a night of stories from a man whose voice was so clear when he sang and so relaxing that I hung onto every word never wanting him to stop. Hypnotic. Compelling. Funny! He spoke to the audience about a girl he fell in love with, a girl who he travelled all the way to New York to see, to sing a Ray Charles song to. And then he sang it to us: Come Live With Me.
We Will Not Be Lovers – where Mike thanks Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground for teaching the band the glory of a two chord song. It’s a great song.
Don’t Bang The Drum – an intense stripped back version. A highlight for me.
And the Fisherman’s Blues. Inspirational. A song full of hope. A Girl Called Johnny. In fact, I realise now that there’s too many brilliant songs to list. I think I’ll stop. Because now I’m distracted, researching how easy it would be for me to learn to play the fiddle. Or maybe the mandolin.
Today I found this blog post written by Mike Scott of The Waterboys on Springsteen’s early career. I was there on that day he writes about in Dublin. And I have to say he has a point. Have a read.
The Fisherman’s Box: The Complete Fisherman’s Blues Sessions is available to buy here. I couldn’t recommend it more.