Scottish singer-songwriter Mike Scott formed The Waterboys in 1983. The music the band have created over the past thirty years, a mixture of Celtic musical tradition and more modern sounds, while never achieving the commercial success of contemporaries such as Simple Minds, has garnered a huge amount of admiration and love in both public and critical circles.

This was never more evident than by the sizeable turnout at the beautifully renovated Hamer Hall tonight.

The sound of the band has evolved over its duration, from the epic and grandiose take on pop music of the mid-80s to more ambitious projects, such as last year’s An Appointment With Mr Yeats, where Scott and his band set the poems of W.B. Yeats, perhaps Ireland’s greatest poet, to music.

This makes perfect sense, as a great deal of the work has possessed a literary quality to it, while managing not to sound self-conscious or pretentious while doing so.

Also, Scott’s mother was an academic and poetry has always been a part of his life since he was a child. As Scott himself promised during this captivating and thrilling night, all periods of the band would be represented.

Scott and his band were in absolutely cracking form. No fancy light shows or big props were required. This was intelligent and beautifully crafted music -something Scott has always had a strong gift for – at its finest.

Kicking off in a storming fashion with “Don’t Bang The Drum”, this was a performance that grabbed you immediately and refused to let go, a musical journey through the eyes of one man and his talented band.

Scott was very charming and affable between songs, regaling us with stories. Such as how he had had a week in Melbourne off before tonight’s show; discovering local institutions such as Mario’s and the Paperback bookshop up the top end of Bourke Street, which has led to his discovery of the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mystery series of books. (He’s already up to his fourth, apparently!)

From the quality of older tracks (‘A Girl Called Johnny’, ‘She Tried To Hold Me’) to the more recent material (‘White Birds’, the achingly beautiful ‘Song Of Wandering Aengus’), with the band taking an enjoyably theatrical approach on stage complete with masks – Scott’s love and joy are what really came to the fore.

Music is obviously the man’s life-long muse. While not a conventional voice, he has a powerfully strident and striking vocal quality.

It would be a great disservice to dismiss the band as one-hit wonders, as many have over the years.

The hit in question is the still startling “The Whole Of The Moon”, which arrived about halfway through tonight’s set. Stripped back of its gargantuan production in its recorded form, it still has the power to send shivers down the spine.

Apart from his own remarkable body of work, The Waterboys have an uncanny ability in regards to cover versions. One of tonight’s encores featured a truly astounding version of Prince’s “Purple Rain”. During which, violin player Steve Wickham just about brought the house down, performing the guitar solo note perfect on his instrument, causing several jaws to drop across the audience.

This was the unpredictable quality that ran through the night that made the entire concert special.

Encouraging the crowd to break the ‘no dancing’ rule, the night closed out with the irresistible “Fisherman’s Blues”. It’s probably too early to call this as the gig of the year; however, it has set the bar very high for what is to follow on the live music scene in 2013.

A magical night of music written to last through the ages, not the next five minutes.

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