From an article first published in Easdale People magazine, Issue No 16, Summer 2003.
On Sunday 20th July 2003 Eilean Eisdeal hosted one of the best concerts ever experienced in Argyll. We were privileged to have the Waterboys performing for a capacity audience of only 130. They had been asked by our very own ex-Waterboy Colin Blakey if they could help raise funds for a high quality piano for the new ball.The tickets were sold out within days and
many people were disappointed as they hadn't secured their tickets by lodging payments on time.
The band arrived the night before and after setting up in the hall at Sunday lunchtime, they were treated to a liberal sprinkling of the 'Easdale Chaos Factor'. There was a three hour long power cut in the afternoon just as the band had started to sound check which threw the dice in the air for the likelihood of having to cancel or seriously alter the performance. Thanks to some gentle persuasion with a verbal mallet from our Chairperson Sandra, The Hydro got the finger out and we were powered up by 5pm at which point there ensued a flurry of activity in the hall and in The Puffer.
The Puffer girls had got halfway through preparing the bands post-concert dinner and pre-concert soup when the power went down and they had to do some quick reorganising of the menu. The 14 hour long musical rollercoaster started in the Puffer in the afternoon with a full blown session featuring local worthies during which a seven year old girl had several staff and punters in tears by singing a Dougie Maclean song. Quick home for tea then we were out to the main event.
There was an enormous feeling of anticipation as we bought our drinks and took our seats in the hall, happy with the knowledge that the piano was getting ever more achievable. After a brief introduction from Colin, first on the stage was support act 'Ribbon Road'. They provided a perfect contrast to the main band in their quiet approach but proved similar to them in the quality of their song writing with Brenda's lyrics touching on topics of personal emotions which set a tone of intimacy that lasted till the end of the night and created an atmosphere of calm reflection which seemed to be understood and appreciated by almost everyone. Their well rehearsed set involved Geoff and Brenda Heslop on guitars and Wee Brown on Bass which complimented the vocalist's harmonies perfectly.
After a short break the three piece Waterboys started their set with the song 'Bring 'em all in' which immediately tested the new hall's ability to take well amplified sound. Mike Scotts' huge dynamic vocal range fitted the hall well and the overall sound was excellent. Their set list included favourites such as 'The Pan Within' and 'Strange Boat' as well as some newer songs and one or two from early days like 'The Girl on the Swing' from the first album. Despite frequent requests for 'The Whole of the Moon' they avoided trying to play it without the essential
brass section. However with only Mike on guitar, Steve on fiddle and Richard on piano, we couldn't have been treated to a fuller sound. Mike Scott's diction was crystal clear and he delivered an animated and theatrical performance full of energy and dramatic self awareness, showing his years of true professionalism. Despite this, he built on the intimate atmosphere and
created a special and personal experience for everyone there.
Steve and Richard were equally committed in their performances and as a whole the band's dynamic range was incredible, rising and falling together. Steve seemed very relaxed and his playing was technically perfect and Richard's piano playing was wholeheartedly uncompromising.
For the islanders, the high point came six tracks from the end when, for the first time in thirteen years, Colin joined the others on stage armed with flute, whistles and classical guitar. The applause was deafening and was only exceeded by the crowds appreciation after they all played 'Fisherman's Blues' together.
The whole event had been meticulously organised and the usual attention to detail and preparation, from the ferries to the stewarding, paid off.
The session in The Puffer afterwards was one of the best we've seen with the Waterboys being first in and already playing by the time everyone else got there. They were joined by John Brindley who had proposed to his partner in the hall earlier during the song 'A man is in love'. Mary said yes, so congratulations to you both.
From the afternoon session to Ribbon Road, the main band and the madness of the session, it was a 14 hours overload of quality musicianship and joy.