Last night saw my first gig of the year with Idlewild’s sold out show at Celtic Connections supported by De Rosa.
I’ve spoken about my enthusiasm for De Rosa already on here so the support slot was one I had been looking forward to even if their similar slot on the same stage with Arab Strap had sacrificed the subtle textures of the LP for a more direct approach.
The band retained the same approach this time out but, with a better sound than in December, it was a more engaging set.
The running order was changed dramatically with new song ‘In Code’ a fairly low key opener. After that it was a bit stop-start, a faster song tended to be followed by a slower one. The 8 songs of last time were expanded with 2 further new songs which included the Michael Faber collaboration “Steam Comes Off Our House” from the upcoming ‘Ballad of the Books‘ project. ‘Steam …’ was a relatively upbeat number, certainly compared to ‘In Code’, whilst the other new song ‘My River’ (not sure of the title) was the only number to feature an acoustic guitar and was the most folk orientated song of the night.
Of course some songs benefitted from the direct approach – ‘Cathkin Braes’ was an absolute stand-out whilst both ‘Camera’ and ‘Headfirst’ (a replacement for ‘All Saints Day’ from last time) surpassed their recorded incarnations. I’d still prefer the LP version of ‘Evelyn’ though.
Overall it was a good show even if the band seemed somewhat intimidated by the wide open spaces of the ABC stage. Their lack of stage presence was accentuated by long awkward breaks between songs whilst guitars were retuned or changed. That may have been a factor in why a fair portion of the Idlewild crowd were somewhat disrespectful because the latter songs had to contend with a fair degree of hubbub. If you want to talk go and do it at the back. But De Rosa still got a decent response at the end and the Vinyl Villain did buy the CD afterwards, even if he still doesn’t like ‘The Engineer’!
De Rosa setlist
1. In Code 2. Father’s Eyes 3. Evelyn 4. Steam Comes Off Our House 5. Cathkin Braes 6. “My River, My Clyde” 7. New Lanark 8. Headfirst 9. The Engineer 10. Camera
The headliners were starting a busy run of gigs and they seemed a good fit for the whole event, to the extent of bringing on fiddler John McCusker for a handful of songs late on. It was essentially a greatest hits set with a handful of new songs thrown in and I’ve seen Idlewild often enough now to know what to expect.
At the start I briefly wonder if the mosh pit has been replaced with the photo pit because opening number ‘Roseability’ does not lead to the rush to the front there had been at the Barras. The rush though is only delayed until the opening chords of ‘If It Takes You Home‘.
From then on it was the usual mixture of energy and good songs although interestingly the set wound down in pace towards the end with the likes of ‘El Capitan’ (probably the evening’s highlight) and ‘Goodnight’. There’s hardly a duff song all night although neither TVV nor myself is fond of ‘American English’, which is, despite our reservations, immensely popular.
The new songs are all fairly up tempo which does beggar the question where Idlewild go from here. Doing what they do they seem to have reached a certain plateau commercially yet they are miles better than many bands who sell piles more records. There’s no accounting for taste.
There’s just the one encore a couple of slower ones and inevitably a couple of crash-bang-wallops to finish. Disappointingly once again the crowd meekly surrender without asking for a second encore with some heading out before the music has been put on, never mind the house lights going up. One other gripe was the amount of noise during even Idlewild’s quiter songs. Talking through a support slot is understandable (if rude) but I can’t fathom why someone would pay to see a headline act and yak. Young people, eh?
So here’s the best song they didn’t play last night. Swines.
Idlewild – A Film For The Future
Idlewild Setlist (approximate)
1. Roseability 2. If It Takes You Home 3. When I Argue I See Shapes 4. No Emotion 5. Little Discourage 6. Love Steals Us From The Loneliness 7. American English 8. Ghost In The Arcade 9. I Understand It 10. Modern Way Of Letting Go 11. The Bronze Medal 12. New 13. Live In A Hiding Place 14. Satan Polaroid 15. El Capitan 16. Goodnight
17. Self Healer 18. Not Just Sometimes But Always 19. I Am What I Am Not 20. You Held The World In Your Arms
Idlewild release new single ‘No Emotion’ on 26th February with LP ‘Make A New World’ to follow on 5th March. They tour the UK in March. De Rosa are writing their new LP but may resurface for gigs in April. Both bands feature on ‘Ballad of the Books‘