The second time of seeing Mr Woomble this year, the first at the wonderful Union Chapel at around the time of the Impossible Songs launch, and this time on Colston Hall. A couple of the band members were the same too, the highly talented Seonaid Aitken on piano, fiddle and vocals , and the young Sorren Maclean on guitar and vocals. They were joined by Danny Grant on drums and a luxuriantly coiffured Dublin bass player whose name I didn’t retain (apologies)
For some reason the support cancelled so the band slid onstage rather unexpectedly around 8.30. The set wasn’t dissimilar to the Union Chapel one, a mix of songs from the two solo albums and nothing from the McCusker, Drever, Woomble album. There were a couple of extras in the form of Neil Gow’s Apprentice written by Michael Marra and, by way of tribute following his recent death, the Bert Jansch song Travelling Man. In the encore was the perennially wonderful You Held the World in Your Arms from the Remote Part album by Idlewild – an arrangement that works very well indeed in this stripped back form; how would an album of other selected Idlewild tracks approached in the same way sound, eh?
Maybe it was its being a seated gig, maybe it was the slightly surprised entrance , perhaps it was the customary respectful Bristol crowd, but it seemed to take us a long while to warm up our welcome. But we did get going eventually but we never really entered the spirit of things with much back chat which must have made it feel a bit hard work for Messrs Woomble & Co.
I hope they didn’t feel too dispirited for they put out a good set (Seonaid’s set list pictured), the newer and older material blending seamlessly together. Of course old favourites like Waverley Steps and My Secret is My Silence elicit the greatest reaction, but Make Something and Old Town , as examples, will become favourites in their own right.
Roddy seemed at ease and comfortable, which he sometimes didn’t with Idlewild, he looked a bit like the Wild Man from Auchterader, but still has the best voice. There is s quality about it which, combined with Caledonian timbre, makes him just about my favourite singer.
The Lad and I agreed that on so many fronts Idlewild is our favourite band which makes their haitus/dissolution all the sadder. But Roddy Woomble has made that tricky transition from one, very particular, music to another, all the time keeping hold of that special quality he has. In so doing he has managed to remain fresh and improve his longevity without becoming a parody of what we first loved him for.
In addition to the footage of Tangled Wire below, there are videos of Waverley Steps and You Held the World on my YouTube channel (grovelling apologies for missing the start of the later, forgive me), oh and a few snaps on Flickr