“This is the last show I will ever play…,” announced Roddy Woomble, with pause for effect, “…in my 30s.” Tanned and dressed in a loose shirt tucked into white trousers, the Idlewild frontman looked like he was just back from a lazy holiday in the Balearic islands, and a long way from the young guy who 20 years ago first made his mark on the music scene with howling performances that invariably involved him writhing about on the floor.
Idlewild and C Duncan | Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow | Rating ****
This concert’s setting of the ornately restored Kelvingrove Bandstand beneath fair skies felt apt to Woomble’s impending jubilee, not to mention becoming of a group who have steadily matured from teenage post-hardcore scruffs into almost godfatherly Scottish indie rockers. Fiddle and Hammond organ have long since replaced fuzz-box fury.
Before Idlewild’s headline set came a very enjoyable supporting turn from C Duncan, the classically-trained Glasgow bedroom dream-pop singer-songwriter whom, a year on from a well-earned Mercury Prize shortlisting for his debut album, has just announced its prompt follow-up The Midnight Sun. The fragrant choral harmonies of Garden couldn’t have been better suited to a backdrop of lush Victorian greenery.
As a lot of Kelvingrove Bandstand shows tend to, Idlewild’s took a while to come to life, the crowd by and large remaining awkwardly seated even as the band threw some of their most potent material at them in You Held The World In Your Arms and Little Discourage. After a time Woomble, perhaps mindful of his own ageing posterior, politely inquired “How are you getting on on those concrete seats?” and suggested people might stand if they like. Most duly did.
American English, the song which back in 2002 heralded Idlewild’s evolution into U2-invoking panoramic rockers, yielded the show’s most romantic moment as darkness fell and Rod Jones’ chiming guitar line pierced the night sky.
They still gamely acknowledged their scrappier roots with A Film For The Future segued into Captain, once the most snarling weapon in Idlewild’s arsenal, its jagged edges now rounded off. It was hard not to wince at a frustratingly softcore version of When I Argue I See Shapes however – one that even the band’s own teenage selves would surely have sneered at.
Much more satisfyingly full-throated was closer A Modern Way of Letting Go, a thrashing sign-off which, in what may be a Kelvingrove first, even saw one guy have a bash at crowd surfing.