Gig review: Idlewild with the RSNO, Paisley

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“We were 18 years old when we wrote that,” reflected Idlewild singer Roddy Woomble following a stately medley of two of their furious early singles A Film for the Future and Captain, the latter decorated tonight with Hitchcockian horror film strings. “I don’t think we thought we’d ever end up playing it with the national orchestra of Scotland,” he added.

Idlewild with the RSNO | Rating: **** | Paisley Abbey

Neither can any long-term fans who have followed this Edinburgh indie-rock band since their noisy, scrappy early days in the late 1990s, when shows would invariably end with Woomble rolling about on the floor, yowling. But after years of growth and maturation in their sound and stature up to their recent first new album in six years, Everything Ever Written, this one-off show in the grand surround of Paisley Abbey as part of The Spree festival felt entirely befitting of Idlewild’s burgeoning national treasure status. It was just a short set, barely 50 minutes long, and the echoing acoustics and awkward sightlines were far from ideal (with the orchestra set up in front of them, the band felt miles away from the audience). But the unique thrill of experiencing such magnificent songs in a magnificent setting overrode any unavoidable shortcomings in the staging.

Full of orchestral flourish in its recorded version, You Held In The World In Your Arms felt fully realised. The likes of Roseability and American English meanwhile took on new lush forms with arrangements by conductor John Logan. Featuring a recording of a poem read by late Scots Makar Edwin Morgan, In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction was an excuse for band and orchestra to cut loose at the finale as it rattled the abbey’s stained glass windows.

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