LUCKY for York, The Waterboys are to play the Barbican for a third year in succession.

“People should expect the unexpected from The Waterboys,” says band leader Mike Scott, but they should definitely expect to hear songs from new album Modern Blues, set for release on January 19 on the Harlequin And Clown label.

Produced by Scott and mixed by Bob Clearmountain, the nine tracks were recorded in Nashville, where Scott and fiddle player Steve Wickham were joined by American musicians.

Among the songs is Still A Freak, a shuddering blues number that The Waterboys premiered at York Barbican last August.

Only eight months earlier, Scott had played York with a very different line-up, as he and Wickham reunited with saxophonist Anthony Thistlethwaite and bass guitarist Trevor Hutchinson from the Fisherman's Blues era for the first time since 1990 to mark the album's 25th anniversary.

Move forward to Modern Blues, an album whose swaggering sound and spirit was prompted by Dublin-based Scott's decision to record The Waterboys' 11th album in the USA.

"Nashville has a reputation as Music City, USA and I fancied some of that. It’s one of the few cities that still has a recording studio industry intact, which brings the spur of competition. I knew that across town Jack White was making a record, The Black Keys were making theirs. I like that competitive feeling, it’s exciting. It's a spur.”

Scott entered the Nashville studio intent on harnessing the rolling, spontaneous energy that fuelled some of The Waterboys’ greatest albums.

“I set out to make a record with an ensemble playing live, to get that performance spirit. It’s how I recorded Fisherman’s Blues,” he says.

To that end, he corralled old hands and new friends. Ralph Salmins, a mainstay on drums for the past four years, appeared alongside Scott and Wickham as usual, while fresh to the ranks were Memphis keyboard player “Brother” Paul Brown, Austin guitar-slinger Zach Ernst and David Hood, legendary bassist from the heyday of FAME studios and Muscle Shoals.

“I’ve got the man who played on R-E-S-P-E-C-T on bass, " says a laughing Scott, who will have all three new additions in 2015's touring band.

Meanwhile, Modern Blues is on its way in the wake of The Waterboys' reach spreading anew. In 2013, Ellie Goulding scored a Top Three British hit with her cover of How Long Will I Love You, while Scott's1984 composition A Pagan Place has become a live staple for cult American indie band The War On Drugs.

Tickets for November 13's 7.30pm concert cost £32.50 or £28.50 on 0844 854 2757 or at