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Music hewn out of the landscape

The Waterboys at The Sage Gateshead - Half way through he tosses it out, as if to get it over and done with.

The Waterboys at The Sage Gateshead - Half way through he tosses it out, as if to get it over and done with.

When you're Mike Scott and you've written a song as magnificent as The Whole of The Moon, you're entitled to produce such a low key version. It's inspired, enabling us to admire the rest of this set's wonderful moments.

Earlier it started in a rather grand manner, with Crash of Angel Wings and the coolest guitar you're likely to see, mahogany no less.

Glastonbury Song, It's Gonna Rain and Love Will Shoot You Down are pleasant enough but they suffer in comparison with what happens next: Old England. It is noble and engrossing, six minutes of rapture. To borrow Scott's own lyric, this song makes me shudder so.

The Waterboys play music as if it's been hewn from the landscape of our past, it's folk and it's rock and it's such a force of nature I'm surprised our Environment Editor hasn't discovered a hill fort amid the lyrics and made it the subject of a feature.

There is almost two and a half hours here, and of course there was the occasional underwhelming moment like Dumbing Down The World. A rambling Peace of Iona is surprisingly unspiritual.

Of the new album, Strange Arrangement is lovely and of the old When Will We Be Married - a "little jig" as Scott would have it - is quite fine.

Stolen Child is beautiful, a flute soars, a violin yearns and the words of WB Yeats take us on a walk with the fairies in the heart-shaped forest that has formed on stage. Medicine Bow sees some Wicker Man-esque mask-wearing as comic as the music is exhilarating, before The Pan Within perhaps steals the show.

Then there's Blue Suede Shoes (I'm not joking, though Scott perhaps was). Then Fisherman's Blues plays and I am in love with this band all over again.

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