Despite the title, it was pleasing to note that Idlewild singer Roddy Woomble wasn’t going full Jools Holland on us with a ringmasterly swathe of trad-rock special guests. His Hootenanay has turned into an annual fixture, and this, the first of a three-night turn which moved on to Edinburgh and Glasgow, was a regular Woomble solo gig with a twist. He took us on a tour of his enviable back catalogue of solo work and Idlewild tracks, and spliced in a few Christmas classics in a perfect complement to the wintery warmth of his own muse.
Roddy Woomble’s Christmas Hootenanny ****
Anyone who is familiar with the breadth of Woomble’s work knows he’s a man of eclectic tastes in folk and alternative rock, but what may have come as more of a surprise to the capacity seated audience was just how well his voice lends itself to an old-fashioned croon throughout White Christmas.
Roddy at Christmas moves his ever-maturing sound on another step; in cream trousers and white shirt, his hair cropped short and his chin clean-shaven, his style and sound was a world apart from the grizzled but learned indie-rock of the recently reconvened Idlewild.
With a full band behind him, which featured fiddle playing from Hannah Fisher, he swept through tracks of his own like Waverley Steps and the poignant and cathartic hymnal A New Day Has Begun, its lyrical sensibility (“abandon your traditions / watch them disappear one by one…”) very much in tune with the season’s hoped-for sense of renewal. Idlewild tracks were selected with care, from the recent So Many Things to Decide to the unmistakeable American English, and Tennessee Waltz celebrated the life of the song’s regular interpreter, the late Leonard Cohen.