The Waterboys, Calvin Theater, 9/19/19

I’m sure I’ve written before about how blown away I was when I last saw U2. It was, as always, the best U2 shown I’d ever seen – from the opening bars to the encore.

The band came to the stage with the Waterboys’ Whole of the Moon playing over the speakers. The set was desert-like, a homage to the 30th anniversary of the Joshua Tree album, which happens to be one of my favorite records.

The pairing just blew my mind.

While I don’t know much of the Waterboys’ catalog, a couple of their songs have significance in my life and, upon reflection, summarize my relationship history pretty neatly.

When I was dating my husband we frequented The Dublin House on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. We’d regularly drop some quarters into the jukebox as we sipped pints of Guinness and debated the merits of teaching our future children how to jaywalk with intelligence versus instructing them to always wait for the sign to beckon them across the street. Sweet times.

One of the songs that regularly made the rotation in those pub days was When Will We Be Married?, a cheery ballad that never failed to make me smile. I think it was on our wedding playlist.

Funnily enough, a song that is almost the exact emotional opposite of When Will We Be Married? also reverberates through my head and heart when I think of the Waterboys – We Will Not Be Lovers. The driving violin and harsh words always both inspire and pain me. It’s a hard song, even without a direct connection to my romantic life.

The Whole of the Moon, though? That song is pure magic. The lyrics tell the story of two people who choose to live in very different manners, one with bold exploration and the other on a much smaller and less fulfilling scale. It summarizes a disparity with which I’m familiar.

I tell you with complete candor that I every time I hear that song, I imagine Michael Scott singing it to me in recognition of my choice to see as much of the moon as possible. Settling for anything less is just sad.

So, last night I went to Northampton, MA to see the Waterboys at the beautiful Calvin Theater. While I had two tickets, I ended up going solo. I drove over early enough to have a bite to eat and make an attempt at selling my extra seat.

After retrieving my tickets at Will Call, I stepped onto the sidewalk to overhear a man telling a woman “sometimes people just give spare tickets away.” Perfect timing.

I asked the woman if she’d like my extra ticket and, once I convinced her that I was sincere in my offer, she ecstatically accepted. As someone who has been on both sides of that situation over the years, I can tell you it feels just as good to be the giver as the receiver. What a nice position to be in either way.

I headed inside to find my seat three rows back from the general admission standing dancing area.

When the band came to the stage, I quickly abandoned my seat and found my way towards the stage, lured by the electric violin and Michael Scott’s burr of a voice. Eventually, I was stage side where I took in the magnificent acoustics and the songs that were full of words describing strong and adventurous women.

It’s a lucky man who’s ever loved, held or kissed her
Man, what a woman
You ask me am I one, but I ain’t tellin’ mister
Man, what a woman
If she was ever in any kind of trouble I’d be honoured to assist her
Man, what a woman
She’s the queen of the greenwood, she’s Pan’s little sister
Man, what a woman

The musicians were tight, the crowd enthusiastic and I was so glad that I had made the effort to drive three hours to see this band.

After a single encore song, I somehow effortlessly caught both sticks as drummer Ash Soan tossed them from the stage, confirming every good thing about my evening.

It was a fantastic show and, as I prepare to celebrate another year of life this weekend, I am more committed than ever to never settle for the crescent when the whole moon is in the sky.

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