Dull skies and rain had plagued Glasgow since early afternoon, incessant and without reprieve the drizzle continued its relentless downpour all throughout the support slot from Northern Irelands solo, acoustic performer Rainy Boy Sleep, while throngs of people filter into the outdoor venue with umbrellas held high, to be handed a free ‘Magners’ poncho to keep them dry.
The Bandstand itself stands proud with an almost celestial sheen, coming from what is more than just a lick of paint, in fact the original building that was built in 1924 by James Millar was under threat and earmarked to be torn down in 2012, however after rigorous campaigning and petitioning by the public the Bandstand was endowed with a restoration grant of £2 million.
Within days of shaking loose the shackles of its commitment to the Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremony the bandstand was ready to undertake its first fully fledged string of open air concerts under the guise of ‘Magners Summer Nights’, the Bandstand is hosting a string of 80’s artists playing over two consecutive weekends.
It was no small feat then, or dare I even say a touch of magic, when at precisely 8:45pm (the appointed time slot) and not a second later, that The Waterboys amble confidently on stage and the grey skies clear and the rain stops.
It takes no time at all to whip the 2500 capacity amphitheatre into a frenzy, the opening chords followed by the first high pitch vibrations from Steve Wickham’s fiddle in the intro to ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ send the audience into a toe tapping sing-along, this was only the second song of the evening, there are even a few brave souls that venture away from their tiered seats to dance at a small vacant section in front of the stage.
By the time frontman, Mike Scott and Wickham start to dance to the chorus by spinning in co-ordinated circles, it was clear the band are in jovial and playful spirits, ‘A Girl Called Johnny’ is the next song and offered a change in pace from frantic Celtic folk to a more cooled down jazz, it also allows an opportunity for the mostly middle aged crowd to catch their breath again.
The song also showcases Mike Scott’s ability as a multi-instrumentalist to switch coolly from guitar to keyboard without flinching, halfway through the set Scott stops to thank the Glasgow audience for making the show a sell out after tickets only being on sale for a day, before proclaiming: “for the summer night that it is… The Pan Within”, a song that bears all the traditional 80’s hallmarks that make it great, from Scott’s high pitched Echo & The Bunnymen vocals to power drums and spectral keyboards.
After that there continues to be some slightly oddball, yet highly entertaining, in between track banter with the crowd, for example, Scott singing a wee ditty along the lines of: “I’m glad that Jimmy Saville is dead, but I wish he would have faced a trial instead,” before launching into ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsy’, or the part where he told the crowd: “this is the night where I do whatever you want me to do,” not always a good idea in front of 2500 Glaswegians that have been drinking cider all night.
Romanticised and upbeat ‘How Long will I Love You?’ prompts a mass sing-along and by the time ‘Mad as the Mist and Snow’ comes on the small empty space at the front of the stage has become a bulging Ceilidh style dance floor.
‘The Whole of the Moon’ was saved for last and predictably the audience greet it with rapturous applause and dancing, oh so much dancing, there are couples jiving in the isle (I’m not joking), grown men pirouetting and pretty much everyone that hadn’t evacuated their seat to join the front, was now standing up on the newly refurbished stone amphitheatre seats.
Perhaps inspired by the joyous dancing beforehand the band then come back on stage for the encore and perform a fast paced Ceilidh inspired cover of ‘Each Little Thing’ by Sharon Shannon.
A truly fantastic gig, in a venue that appears to be quite magical, the audience illuminated by fairy lights overhead, some imported synthetic grass in the ‘Street Food’ area and more importantly clear skies above, all lend to the festival atmosphere, only you’re in the heart of the West End.
Words/Photos: Angela Canavan