Waterboys singing the blues again and on way back to north east

Waterboys frontman Mike Scott.
Waterboys frontman Mike Scott.

Singing the blues has always paid off for the Waterboys, just as it did for US singer and actor Guy Mitchell back in 1956, and they’ll be hoping to keep up that winning streak with their latest album, due out next month.

Fisherman’s Blues, the Scottish folk-rock act’s fourth album, gave them their first top 20 hit, reaching No 13 in 1988, and also yielded one of their four top 40 singles, its title track having made it to No 32 that same year, and their last LP, 2015’s Modern Blues, was their first to reach the top 20 since 1993, peaking at No 14.

And they’ll be keeping their fingers crossed that blue continues to be a lucky hue for them when their 12th album comes out on Friday, September 8.

Titled Out of All This Blue, it’s the first double studio album they’ve put out since their formation in Edinburgh in 1983 and also their first for new label BMG.

Four of the 23 tracks making up its standard edition have already been released online to give fans a taster of what’s to come – Do We Choose Who We Love?, If the Answer is Yeah, Payo Payo Chin and Mister Charisma.

A bonus disc available with deluxe formats of the new album adds a further 11 out-takes and alternate versions.

“Out of All This Blue is two-thirds love and romance, one-third stories and observations,” said frontman Mike Scott.

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make a double album, and lucky for me – and, I hope, the listener – the songs just kept coming, and in pop colours.”

Out of All This Blue is a sprawling, eclectic set seemingly inspired in large part by Scott’s marriage to Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, alias Rokudenashiko, last year.

It fails to hit the heights reached by Modern Blues tracks such as Long Strange Golden Road or Destinies Entwined, largely abandoning that album’s rock leanings in favour of excursions into other genres including pop and country-and-western, but, luckily for listeners, it’s a more than worthy follow-up and has plenty to commend it to fans old and new.

Lead tracks Do We Choose Who We Love? and If the Answer is Yeah are as radio-friendly as anything the band have ever done, and the likes of Love Walks In and Santa Fe also bear comparison with anything in their recent back cataogue.

The Waterboys will be returning to the road to promote their new album, and their line-up for their forthcoming tour will be of almost double-figure proportions.

Joining vocalist and guitarist Scott and fellow core members Steve Wickham on violin, Ralph Salmins on drums, Paul Brown on keyboards and Aongus Ralston, replacing David Hood on bass, will be additional guitarist Bart Walker, extra drummer Jon Green and backing singers Jess Kav and Zennie Summers.

“It’s going to be something like Joe Cocker’s 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishmen ensemble, with two killer drummers, soulful singers and a big band. We’re excited,” said Edinburgh-born Scott, 58.

That nine-piece incarnation of the band can be seen at the Sage Gateshead on Monday, October 23, as part of a seven-date British and Irish tour also stopping off at London, Manchester and Glasgow.

Tickets cost £36.50 or £42. For details, go to www.sagegateshead.com or www.mikescottwaterboys.com

That will be the Waterboys’ fourth visit to the riverside venue, following previous shows there in 2006, 2012 and 2015, plus a solo set by Scott, accompanied by Wickham, also in 2012.

Fisherman’s Blues and Modern Blues are among five Waterboys albums to have reached the top 20, the others being 1990’s Room to Roam and 1993’s Dream Harder, both No 5s, and the compilation The Best of the Waterboys 81–90, a No 2 in 1991.

Their other top 40 singles to date, besides the title track of Fisherman’s Blues, are Glastonbury Song, a No 29, and The Return of Pan, a No 24, both in 1993, and The Whole of the Moon, a No 26 in 1985 and a No 3 when reissued in 1991.