Idlewild at the Roundhouse
As the Google listing for their website proudly and plainly proclaims, Idlewild are a band from Scotland. The broguish quality to the chorus generated by the audience packing the Roundhouse to its geodesic rafters could fool one into thinking this were a crowd from Scotland too, but this is a band with a long-established following that stretches well beyond their homeland’s border.
A recent five-year hiatus notwithstanding, Idlewild will turn 20 later this year, and the admiration displayed by those in attendance for their heroes suggests that many of them have been on board for most of that period. From the moment that frontman Roddy Woomble uses the final refrain of opener Nothing I Can Do About It as a springboard into mass sing-along hysteria with You Held the World In Your Arms (the biggest chart hit of that two-decade career), this is an exercise in preaching to the converted.
That’s not to say that the performance doesn’t deserve its plaudits; there’s a dizzying array of artistry on display. Technicians in either wing are kept frantically busy as many of Woomble’s bandmates exchange instruments and trade roles after virtually every tune. A new addition to the touring line-up, Hannah Fisher, adds an extra dimension with her fiddle, which blends beautifully with Rod Jones’ searing lead guitar on songs such as Make Another World. That there are usually five or six harmonising voices raised to each chorus also adds to the full, lush instrumentation, and the emotional impact is palpable, especially when those voices are joined by those of the assembled masses on crowd-pleasers such as American English and Love Steals Us From Loneliness.
The set winds down with a showcase of music from new album Everything Ever Written – with the belting twin-guitar pomp of (Use It) If You Can Use It a particular highlight – before the encore sends the crowd into raptures, closing out with manic moshing to A Modern Way of Letting Go and a triumphant In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction.
Without ever dominating the scene, Idlewild have ploughed a furrow at the more cerebral end of the indie spectrum; transcending both the derivative Britpop popular at their inception, and the humdrum drive time excesses of the genre’s early-noughties nadir. In doing so, they have attracted a passionate following with whom they can easily conspire to conjure a truly memorable live experience.
For further information about Idlewild and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Use It If You Can Use It here: