The Waterboys – An Appointment with Mr. Yeats

‘An Appointment with Mr Yeats’ sees the words of W B Yeats, one of Ireland’s greatest literary sons, merged with the music of The Waterboys, one of Britain and Ireland’s greatest rock bands, in a truly unique and ambitious musical undertaking. The album features an extended Waterboys line-up including fiddle maestro Steve Wickham, new Irish singer Katie Kim, multi-instrumentalist Kate St. John, Flook flautist Sarah Allen and Catalan trombonist Blaise Margail. ‘An Appointment with Mr Years’ draws on fourteen of Yeats’ poems, spanning both famous and lesser known works, from the wry to the romantic, the political to the mythological, all invigorated with the energy and exuberance of The Waterboys.

The project has long been a passion for Waterboys vocalist Mike Scott, who first delivered a new dimension to Yeats’ poetry in 1988, when he wrote a musical accompaniment for the classic poem The Stolen Child, during the making of the Waterboys seminal album ‘Fisherman’s Blues’.

Five years later he set another Yeats poem to music, Love and Death, which appeared on their ‘Dream Harder’ album. Over the years, Scott has been quietly crafting a wealth of material similarly based on the writings of Yeats. A number of these were performed by him at the Abbey Theatre during the Yeats International Festival in 1991, but most have remained in Scott’s private songbook awaiting the right vehicle. An Appointment with Mr. Yeats is that long-awaited context.

Scott’s love of literature is firmly embedded throughout the work of The Waterboys. He has also put the writings of Robert Burns, James Stephens, Kenneth Grahame and George MacDonald to song. Speaking on his literary influences and loves, Scott explains: “I grew up in a house full of books so literature and language have always been important to me. Working with other peoples’ words is something that comes as natural to me as working with my own. In a way it’s even more immediate; I’ve always found writing music an easier process than the writing of lyrics, and setting words of the quality of Yeats’ to music is an enormous privilege and treat.”

An Appointment with Mr. Yeats is a unique and memorable opportunity for lovers of great music and great literature to celebrate the union of song and word in one spectacular record.

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Are there any women here? Bearded Theory 2011 review

In the quest to experience something new every year, it was the turn of The Bearded Theory to fulfil this self-indulgence.

Situated in the picturesque grounds of Kedleston Hall, in my home county of Derbyshire, the Bearded Theory Festival took place from 13 -15th May this year.  An eclectic mix of music, entertainment, characters with never a dull moment.

It was the Festival’s third year, but it’s first year at Kedleston Hall.  An easy-to-reach venue that was easy on the eye but which was also a celebrity site, having been the key location for the Keira Knightley film “The Duchess”.    The site was well-proportioned, with many delights for old and young alike.  The weather decided to be surprisingly co-operative, but in the sparse times of rain, there was cover to take refuge under.

Why ‘Bearded Theory Festival’, I hear you ask?  Well, during the festival, there was a guiness book of record attempt for the “most amount of fancy dress Beards in one place and at one time”.  What an opportunity to achieve another first of being able to say that I was part of a record attempt and also to be able to wear a beard and enact a favourite Monty Python scene… “Are there any women here?”  Fantastic.

The main attraction of the Festival were ‘The Waterboys’ (officially) and what an act they were.  Absolutely brilliant, a stunning set.  The sheer understated showmanship of Mike Scott with his Jaggeresque arrogance and superb musicianship; the flamboyant fiddle skills of Steve Wickham; and the brilliance support of the other members of the band created a feast for the ears and the feet!

Why were they the main attraction officially?  Well, X-Factor reject, Wagner, was this year’s curiosity and faux-star feature and that is all the publicity I am going to give him in this review.

There were three main areas for the music.  The Main Stage; The Beard Top and the Magical Sounds Area with so many great acts playing across the weekend.  In no particular order; Dan Donnelly; 3 Daft Monkeys (The stalwart and honorary patrons of the Festival); Ferocious Dog (great name); The Whip; The Undertones; Justin Sullivan  of New Model Army fame; an awesome Swiss trio – Mama Rosin; Dub Pistols; The Bad Shepherds; Martha Tilston; Little Jonny England; Trans Global Underground; Athlete; Eddie and The Hot Rods.  Apologies to any one who I have missed out, but you were all excellent.

Whereas the Friday and Saturday were the opportunity for me to experience the Festival as a “grown-up”, I had the privilege to experience the Sunday as a “family day”.  Accompanied by my children, siblings and their younger children, we trooped along to the festival to see what else it offered for those not so enamoured by the music.  What a treat; – there was face-painting; craft activities; hula-hooping; hunt for the Gruffalo (found him and got a hug!); bouncy slide; bedtime fireside story;  Then there was the food; yum – something for all palates and not that pricey too – always a bonus!!!  For the retail therapy aficionados, then stalls to peruse and purchase from and of course, a variety of beards to deliberate over for the record attempt.  Then to wind down and relax, a calming massage that soothed the muscles and the mind.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and one that I hope to repeat next year and maybe even brave the camping!  I definitely recommend this festival.  There is entertainment galore and not just from the artists, but from members of the audience as well.  Book now for next year’s event (18th, 19th, 20th May 2012) peeps and wear your beards with pride!!

Sarah Burch 2011 

Festival weblink: http://www.beardedtheory.co.uk/

Folking Bearded Theory 2011 photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/folking/sets/72157626737349334/