Idlewild, O2 ABC, Glasgow, Sun 8 Mar 2015
Highly enjoyable return from Woomble and Co.
With a fury that knows no bounds, Idlewild's fearless wrecking machine Roddy Woomble prowls around the stage like a rabid rottweiler, damn near foaming at the mouth with the anticipation of tonight's intensity.
Never breaking eye contact with the slew of wide-eyed worshippers packed in here arse-to-elbow, he grips his microphone cable between his teeth and with the first crack from the band of able-bodied musical mercenaries behind, he plunges double-footed into the swaying mess before him.
Held aloft like a victorious revolutionary, he is carried, kicking and screaming across the grounds of the ABC dancefloor in a seething, spasming mess of energ – forcing deep-throated yells into the air as sweat falls from the rafters and his onstage companions lose themselves in an endless blur of throbbing wire and windmilling limbs. Nobody's getting out of here alive.
Ok, so none of this happened. At all. But that's ok. It's fun to think about Idlewild in their prime of youthful exuberance and noise, and imagine something to this effect when you hear old favourites in your head. But it's sometimes just as satisfying to see them truly confident and operating in a manner so close to flawless that you can't help but leave with a smile on your face. Even if it means that the visual aspect isn't as exciting, at least not in any rock n roll definitions of the word (it mostly consists of Roddy Woomble casually strolling around like a seasoned yet restless storyteller and Rod Jones bobbing about like noone’s watching him in his teenage bedroom, although both of which actually happen to be good things and are charming in their own way).
With the band's new album, Everything Ever Written doing the rounds right now, having entered the UK album charts at number 20 a couple of weeks ago, a large part of their show is quite obviously being used to focus on new material, albeit material that even the die hards haven't had that much time to digest. So there are admittedly a few moments when waiting for the next song to start, and it isn't old gold, that are met with bemused applause. But there are also little flourishes of brilliance that make up for it – the duel guitar harmonies on ‘(Use It) If You Can Use It’ for example descend into Skynyrd-eque territory but are so on-point they are practically untouchable, while the appearance of brass and strings throughout provide some textural padding, fleshing the sound out to create an even warmer, lush atmosphere.
Knowing that these songs are placed in favour of other more obvious 'hits' such as ‘(When I Argue) I See Shapes’ or ‘Actually It's Darkness’ for example might grate on some fans, but any potential gripes are dealt with swiftly and pretty heavy-handedly with a healthy slew of greats, including ripping versions of ‘Roseability’ and ‘The Modern Way Of Letting Go’ as well as a beautiful turn on ‘American English’ among many others.
Finishing with superb run through ‘In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction’, there are cries for more, with some no doubt leaving without hearing 'their' song, or hearing 'their' set. And to be fair there does come a moment shortly after where a second encore could've totally worked, but nevertheless, the band still leave graciously after an accomplished and highly enjoyable set. Good to have them back on the rounds.