By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
While Jan. 26th will mark the first time singer-songwriter John Waite will take the stage at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Massachusetts, it’s certainly not his first show in the area.
Considering the fact that he used to live in New York, and knows many people from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, he said Fall River feels just like home.
“It’s stunning, especially this time of year,” said Waite, who was born in Lancaster, England. “I’m used to the East Coast weather and I like the seasons. It’s just great to be out there. We can’t wait to get back East. I’m sure it’s going to be a pretty good show because we love to play.”
The evening will feature two opening acts, including Burlington, Vermont, singer-songwriter Justin Levinson, as well as former Somerset, Mass., resident Shaun Hague, who was a member of Waite’s touring band last year.
“We love him,” Waite said of Hague. “He looks like ‘House,’ so that’s what we used to call him and introduce him as on stage. He’s really great and we’ll be pleased to see him.”
Waite, a guitarist, will have a full electric band with him. They’ll be performing fan favorites from throughout his career, including songs from his days as lead vocalist for The Babys, such as “Isn’t It Time,” as well as “When I See You Smile,” an anthem he released with the rock band Bad English.
Of course, he’ll play songs from his solo career that produced numerous Billboard Top 40 hits, such as the #1 smash hit “Missing You.”
“It will be colorful because there’s a huge amount of songs to choose from,” Waite said. “We keep it interesting and we start each show off differently. If we got into playing the same set every night, everybody would just stay home. I can’t be part of that. It’s just not what I do. I try to keep it as fluid as I can.”
As he said, every show is unique, as is every audience. He believes an audience has a big impact on how a band performs a particular song or even a whole set.
“Sometimes the audience is pretty vocal and sometimes they just watch. It’s my job to sort of bring it,” said Waite. “I don’t really have any rules about it – you just step into it and go. If the vibe is in the air, everything just explodes. It’s music; it’s the best thing in the world.”
Aside from his show at the Narrows, Waite is set to gig at a handful of other venues in New England. In February, he plans to record tracks at an unplugged show in New York for a live album, which he expects to release in the spring. The album will also feature songs he recorded during a Philadelphia performance in November.
He anticipates he’ll be on a world tour shortly afterwards, leaving little time for writing and recording new material. Still, he’d like to go into the studio this month to tinker around.
His last studio album, “Rough & Tumble,” was released in 2011, and contained some of his most personal songs.
“I had a rough couple of years going in to that record, and came out with a lot of interesting lyrics,” Waite said.
He described it as a “funny” album, as he planned to release it as a five track EP, but his former management wanted more songs.
“It was really frustrating because to me, it was complete, so I was completely stumped,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
That’s when Waite hooked up with Matchbox 20 guitarist, Kyle Cook, in Nashville. The two collaborated and made music Waite said is some of his best.
“It was like a career record for me,” he said. “I have no idea how it worked, but it all worked. We completed about seven songs in four days. At the end of the day I was pretty beat, but it’s a great little record. I was very happy with it and it got a lot of airplay.”
He also said working with Cook was “great fun.”
“We got on very well and wrote songs at a very fast speed,” Waite said. “He was always game to jump in and try anything new. He’s a great guitar player and he’s very intelligent.”
When recording the track, “The Evil,” Waite said he made up lyrics on the spot. The demo is on the album as a master track.
But Waite is known for not liking overly produced music. Rather, he enjoys imperfections.
“It’s the honesty of it,” he said. “When you’re in the studio doing a vocal, the first is always the best. You’re bobbing and weaving and you’re in that place. You’re just being yourself completely. You can’t be out of tune and you can’t be going down the road – you have to know where you are, but mistakes make it more human.”
Like his music, Waite appreciates life and all the imperfections and magical moments that go along with it.
“I’m lucky to have the life I have,” he said. “And I love making music. I’m so knocked out by it. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Tickets to Waite’s show can be purchased online at www.narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the box office. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Our publisher, JKB Booking, is presenting the show. They can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jkbbooking.