“I like Christmas,” explained Roddy Woomble, the smartly turned-out 43-year-old frontman of once snarling young Scottish post-grunge scruffs Idlewild, “because it’s the only time of year I can be a Michael Bublé fan and not get mocked for it.” He even crooned a jazzy Blue Christmas to prove his appreciation. Age will soften us all.
Roddy Woomble, Blue Arrow, Glasgow ****
The Mull muso’s seasonal shows have been a fixture of the most wonderful time of the year for a decade now. The occasional festive standard aside, this one largely forwent tinselly schmaltz in favour of offering fans a stripped-back cosy-intimate encounter with songs – some real gifts among them – from throughout Woomble’s repertoire, backed tidily by Idlewild’s Andrew Mitchell on keys and Sorren Maclean on electric guitar. All that was missing was a roaring open fire.
It was a night for digging out rarities such as 1997 Idlewild debut album fans’ favourite I’m Happy To Be Here Tonight, and Listen to Keep from Woomble’s now deleted 2013 album of the same name.
It was a night too for big goosebumps-raising singalongs to songs accustomed to rooms much bigger than a 170-capacity basement jazz club – top-20 singles American English and You Held the World in Your Arms included.
Woomble has, of course, been showing his softer side to stirring effect for years through his folk-influenced solo output, and My Secret Is My Silence and Waverley Steps sounded in rousing good company alongside Idlewild’s biggest hits. A full Bublé-esque croon to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas at the end may have been too soft for some, but who could grudge him the indulgence? Malcolm Jack