Waterboys: A highlight for fans at the Moseley Folk Festival

The Waterboys

The Waterboys

Moseley Folk Festival seems to get better and better as each year passes and this year is no exception.

Between August 29 and 31 a host of big acts will be taking to the main stage in Moseley Park as headliners, including Johnny Marr on Friday and Richard Thompson on Saturday, but Irish music fans will no doubt be waiting with baited breath for the Waterboys who close the festival on Sunday.

The Waterboys were formed 30 years ago by Mike Scott and initially gained a popular following for their anthemic folk-infused pop, with a brace of hit albums in the shape of A Pagan Place and This Is The Sea, the latter including their biggest hit The Whole Of The Moon.

It’s a song that can still excite and inspire 30 years on and helped gain the band a huge and loyal following.

However the recruitment of Irish fiddle virtuoso Steve Wickham saw the band take something of a new direction – and a specifically Irish one at that.

Although Scott himself is Scottish, he immersed himself in the Irish folk scene, putting down some temporary roots in Spiddal in Galway.

This full-on foray into folk produced one of the finest albums by the Waterboys in the shape of Fisherman’s Blues.

It might have disappointed some for departing from the anthemic rock sound that was the band’s trademark but went on to become the Waterboys’ biggest selling album.

A genuine classic that fused Scottish and Irish folk music with rock to great effect – it even added a bit of country, blues and gospel into the mix. Last year marked its 25th anniversary and the band went on a special tour to celebrate.

It reunited Scott and Steve Wickham with band members Anto Thistlethwaite and Trevor Hutchinson for the first time since 1990.

In all 100 or so songs were produced during the lengthy process to create the album, some of which made it on to the follow-up Too Close to Heaven.

Fisherman’s Blues contains some works of real beauty and also charts a musical journey that saw Scott move to Ireland with recording sessions in Dublin, Spiddal and even San Francisco.

Although somewhat quieter in the intervening years, the band have never really gone away. Their  2011 album An Appointment With Mr Yeats, a collection of lyrics by Ireland’s greatest poet turned into contemporary rock songs, was rapturously received by critics and audiences alike.

October 2013 also saw the release of EMI’s 7 CD set Fisherman’s Box, going some way to capturing the huge amount of material created as part of Fisherman’s Blues.

This year the band are probably one of the biggest acts doing the festival circuit and Moseley really should be a night to remember.

Lisa O’Neill is another act set to appeal to Irish music lovers. Her album Same Cloth or Not was recorded in a rented cottage in Wicklow in the winter months.

Anyone who has already seen the Irish singer perform at Body & Soul or the Electric Picnic or an impromptu sessúin somewhere or other will testify that Lisa’s live performance are beguiling affairs full of banter and old-style folk intimacy.

Recent years have seen Lisa tour the world extensively and open for David Gray, Mick Flannery, Angel Olsen, Glen Hansard and Sixto Rodriquez.