The Waterboys Co-Headlining Stage, LeBreton Flats, Ottawa ON, July 12

The Waterboys Co-Headlining Stage, LeBreton Flats, Ottawa ON, July 12
Photo: Jessica Deeks
Playing Ottawa for the first time in their 30-year career, the Waterboys took the Bluesfest stage for a late evening performance before hundreds of fawning fans. Bringing his five-piece band that featured all-new members — save for long-time fiddle virtuoso Steve Wickham — bandleader Mike Scott gazed at the enthusiastic crowd with a look of awe and humility.

Stomping through a high-energy set that included late-career material, unreleased new music and classics like "Fisherman's Blues," "A Girl Called Johnny" and "Don't Bang the Drum," Scott, Wickham and company sounded remarkably tight and fluid, adorning the performance with a freewheeling, triumphant vibe. Proving that he's every bit deserving of the moniker "world's greatest fiddle player," Wickham attacked his instrument with the same salience and ferocity as any half-worthy guitar god.

Switching between electric guitar, 12-string acoustic and keyboard, Scott embraced his role as Celtic poet laureate, swooning through his collection of highly-literate material before delving into a couplet of Yeats verses while he, Wickham and guitarist Jay Barclay pranced around the stage in gothic facemasks. Closing the set with their version of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?," the Waterboys looked just as youthful and virile onstage as the middle-agers in attendance felt.