The Waterboys cover Bob Dylan at London Feis

The Waterboys  at Bearded Theory 2011 by Sara Bowrey
The Waterboys at Bearded Theory 2011 by Sara Bowrey

Mike Scott is The Waterboys. With a line up that has changed more times over the years than most people swap socks, you have to wonder if by the end of their London Feis set the same guys will still there who started. After all, 45 minutes is a long time in folk rock'n'roll.

And after a lacklustre performance a few weeks back when the band headlined Bearded Theory it’s interesting to see if Scott can bounce back to form.

Especially being third on the bill with four acts still to come before Bob Dylan headlines the first instalment of Finsbury Park’s newest Irish musical celebration.

But this is not a band that has lasted time’s fierce tests without still being able to pull off a blinder.

Perhaps energised by the Guinness-fuelled Celtic blood that is pumping in the park this afternoon, Scott’s lean and leather-clad figure swings through the first couple of numbers like a hammer thrower winding himself up for a personal best.

And although it’s safe to say he still falls a few yards short, today’s show is classic Waterboys all the way.

As the band reaches ‘Be Your Enemy’ it’s certain that everything is on track for Scott to deliver the goods, and deliver them he does.

A Dylan cover (‘You’re A Big Girl Now’) comes up next, followed by a pedal-steel accompanied ‘A Bang on the Ear’ and a great rendition of ‘The Raggle Taggle Gipsy’.

Before the probably predictable finale, Scott indulged his most recent literary/musical crossover project and drops in a song whose words he exclaims: “are as well known in Ireland as Hamlet’s soliloquy is in England.”

From the 20-years-in-the-making collection of poetry put to music that is ‘An Appointment With Mr Yates’, ‘September 1913’ is indeed one of the literary giant’s best known works.

And if there is any doubt that the formula may be a dud, this one song should be enough to get anyone along to a full play-through of the ambitious concept collection.

The only question remaining is the order in which The Waterboys will play out their signature tunes to close the set.

As it turns out the audience is treated to a stirring ‘Whole of The Moon’ first, followed by the glorious ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ – sadly accompanied by a little extra percussion as heavy raindrops bounce from the umbrellas that suddenly sprouted above the heads of a not-to-be-moved crowd.

But it was smiles all around as the heavy grey clouds pass quickly overhead.

“We were going to go off and come back for an encore, but apparently some bloke whose name I can’t remember who is playing at the end tonight is the only one allowed to do that,” grins Scott. “So I guess we’ll just have to play on.”

And with scant regard for carefully planned stage timings, play on the band do. But only for the one song before being quickly swept from the stage to make way for the rising star of The Gaslight Anthem.