We suspect that by the time you read this, Idlewild may be no more. Having announced an indefinite hiatus due to demand for their music being -far less than in the past, especially outside of Britain’ and their current 40-date tour being -more than enough shows for some time’, the cult Scottish stars Academy gig three days after their announcement took on an entirely more poignant feeling. In amongst The Academy crowd, a significant Scottish contingent made their voices heard; one pair told us that they were unable to make the local show this weekend, and spent a fortune on a last minute ticket to Dublin, unable to face the idea of kissing goodbye to their favorite band. Like State, Idlewild’s hardcore following suspect the -hiatus’ might be more of a farewell.
Unsurprisingly, then, tonight finds the Scots in a nostalgic mood. A hefty serving of earlier material, featuring brilliantly shambolic performances of -Captain’, -Roseability’, -Little Discourage’, -Rusty’, -When I Argue I See Shapes’ and -These Wooden Ideas’ take us back to the days when you could reasonably bracket Idlewild’s music with the post-punk shenanigans of At The Drive In without invoking a snigger. Roddy Woomble – a man whose development as a vocalist has seen Idlewild drift away from their teenage angst and into a more mainstream, chart-worthy style of indie – is a touch morose this evening, spending large chunks of the set stood to the side, taking the chance to watch his band strum away between vocals, perhaps banking a memory or two.
In truth, this is the Idlewild we’d hoped would never depart. The -rock and roll poetry’ side of the band is in tact, yet a beautiful rendition of -Scottish Fiction’ – complete with Edwin Morgan’s purpose written poem – is no longer the traditional closer, but followed instead by a thumping run through of one of -The Remote Part’s heavier twists, -A Modern Way Of Letting Go’. The later classics are all here, too. -American English’ and -El Capitan’ see Rod Jones shift to the keyboard, but still sound fraught and energized next to their subtler performances of a few years ago.
Idlewild’s moments of subtlety in the early part of the century – for all the success of debut LP effort Hope Is Important – arguably remain their most popular efforts, but their heavier undertones have always seeped from beneath that more polished exterior. Whether the band’s demise proves to be temporary of permanent, their announcement has bought Idlewild’s -wild’ side out, as demonstrated by the use of -Too Long Awake’ – a near instrumental moment that may just be symbolic of the bands status – as the night’s closer.
Tonight was about everything Idlewild have been, a straight up set without the typical latest album promotion and performed with lively abandon. If the show does turn out to be one of their last, Idlewild will have gone out on a musical – if not popularity – high. They might not know it, but as a genuinely creative and genre-twisting indie-rock band, they’ll be sorely missed.
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