Mainstream Values – Idlewild live

Idlewild / Eugene Kelly and Michael Pedersen – Barrowlands, Glasgow – Saturday, 4th May 2019

A new record was the precursor to Idlewild’s first Barrowlands show for a number of years. And if the show perhaps wasn’t quite sold out, it was certainly busy enough to justify the upgrade on recent tours.

Eugene Kelly and Michael Pedersen opened the show alternating between Michael’s poems and Eugene’s songs. Whilst it was well received, particularly Eugene’s hits, it was never likely to upstage the headliners.

I’d been aware that Allan Stewart was re-joining the band, for the tour at least, but had imagined that it would be in place of Hannah Fisher. Nope, Hannah was still involved, meaning that the band now numbers no fewer than seven. What was different though that the instrument swapping of recent tours was gone, with Andrew Mitchell taking bass for the duration with Luciano Rossi on keyboards.

The reason for the tour, of course, was new album ‘Interview Music’. I confess that I’ve still not fully got to grips with the record yet. In some ways it’s definitely their most adventurous collection for some time, yet some of the strongest songs on the record (such as ‘All These Words’) are those that sound most like Idlewild. I’ve also blown hot and cold on the strengths of the songwriting, from being impressed on one listen to less so the next. Then back again!

However, the set certainly demonstrated that Idlewild remain a potent live force. Lead song on the new record (and one of its best) ‘Dream Variations’ started the show on a high before a run of older songs, including ‘You Held The World In Your Arms’ second and ‘Roseability’ third, had the place absolutely jumping.

Yet the intensity slightly dropped thereafter, even if the inclusion of songs like ‘Ghost In The Arcade’ and ‘Iam What I Am Not’ represented a welcome juggling of the pack.

The big disappointment, particularly given the way that the band have talked up the new album, was that there were only four selections from it, even if the title track and ‘The Same Thigs Twice’ were amongst the set’s highlights.

Things really kicked off in the encores though. Their cover of ‘Head Rolls Off’ was brought back to mark the anniversary (almost) of Scott’s death whilst ‘Everyone Says You’re So Fragile’ and ‘A Film for the Future’ raised the roof on the old venue. ‘A Modern Way of Letting Go’ and ‘In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction’ rounded things off emphatically.

As ever then it was a great show but I’m left with a nagging disappointment that more of the new record wasn’t given a chance live, particularly since virtually everything on ‘Everything Ever Written’ did get played when that was toured. In fact, only ‘Collect Yourself’ from that record has survived this long and even at that it seemed to be an intermittent presence in the set on this tour.

Maybe, when everyone’s more familiar with the new album, the new stuff will be included in the secondary touring later in the year, but recent history suggests that’s by no means certain.

Barrowlands setlist.