This was an unusual gig format, in that the first half was a medley of earlier songs with then an interval followed by songs from the new album, An appointment with Mr Yeats. Normally you’d expect it to be the other way round, or else old and new songs alternating. Kicking off with Rags established a high tempo and this kept up until midway through the first half, when they slowed it right down with one of my favourites, The Girl in the Swing, picking up again with The Pan Within, and shortly afterwards we got the interval.
The second half kicked off with the album’s opener, The Hosting of the Shee, although, unlike many of this kind of show, they didn’t stick to the album order throughout and it was in the slower numbers that the problems really began.
Firstly, the venue. I’ve praised Leeds Town Hall before, for both the Unthanks with brass band and for the screening of the Silent Clowns but, here, it was wrong. The Waterboys are a folk-rock act and we needed to be standing, not sitting in neat little rows, for those rowdier songs and it meant that the band had to work a little harder to get the atmosphere right.
The set-up also led to the second problem and that was a couple of the other punters. There was a disabled area to the front right, which is perfectly laudable except that it got occupied by a hairy stoner hippie muppet and his girlfriend who wanted to dance, drunkenly reeling around and, as they were directly in front of me, this was rather distracting. This wasn’t too bad in the first half but, after the interval, they were joined by a bunch of drunken arseholes who were more interested in checking the football scores on their mobiles, and loudly discussing them, than listening to the concert. All but one of them fucked off, but this last one carried on chatting with the muppets, infuriating in the quieter songs, until Scott stopped the gig and asked if they wanted the band to play quieter so he wouldn’t be interrupting their chat and then told them to “shut the fuck up”.
From that point, the gig and my mood improved again. For the encore, we got Don’t Bang the Drum and, inevitably, The Whole of the Moon. At this point, quite a few people left, possibly because of travel needs (it was getting a bit late) but possibly because they’d got what they came for. Those of who stayed got a second encore, finishing with a rousing, raucus Fisherman’s Blues to leave the gig having enjoyed, overall, a terrific night.