Gig review: Roddy Woomble, Edinburgh

Woomble was in fine voice in this evocative, storytelling set. Picture: Kenny Smith
Woomble was in fine voice in this evocative, storytelling set. Picture: Kenny Smith
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When Roddy Woomble’s old band Idlewild finally reconvene in public later this year after a near five-year hiatus, it’s going to be interesting to see how he adapts to the change in pace.

Roddy Woomble - Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh

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For Idlewild were a dependably lively power-pop proposition with a roots element drawn from Woomble’s rich lyrical storytelling, while his own three-album solo career of the last half-decade has veered deep into the more sober contemporary folk style.

The setting at this busy show was loose and informal, with the four performers onstage seated throughout. Somewhat democratically, Woomble was the one on the left of the semi-circle they sat in, having to turn to face the audience hand on knee every time a song introduction or tuning break was required, giving him the air of a youthful uncle telling tales by the fireplace.

The warmth of the setting emphasised the evocative quality of his voice and lyrics, from the cheery country of The Last One of My Kind and Traveling Light to the reflective Every Line of a Long Moment, about being able to look out over the Atlantic every morning from his home.

He affected a strong Illinois croon on a cover of John Prine’s Speed of the Sound of Loneliness and built a wonderful sense of place with his tribute to Edinburgh, Waverley Steps (“Or Waverley Escalator,” as he points out it should now be named). Across the stage, Seonaid Aitken’s piano, vocals and especially fiddle playing was transporting, broadening the range of these well-wrought songs immensely.

Seen on 11.04.14