Monday, 21 December 2009

677 IDLEWILD, Inara George, San Francisco Slims, CA USA, Wednesday 5 October 2005

First stop on Rachel's and my 2 centre California honeymoon - San Francisco! And a pre-booked gig by current faves Idlewild too, what excellent timing! Took a cable car uptown from our waterfront hotel, then bussed along to explore the disappointing Haight-Ashbury district, before taxi-ing over to the nearby gig just before doors. Had to endure a most peculiarly American phenomenon - the gig beggar - before getting into this old ballroom style venue, which actually achieved the odd feat of looking much bigger from the outside! Weird!

We'd not eaten, so got snacks in while support Inara George was on. Inara was a folksy Suzanne Vega sound-alike, only without the quality of material, so this set was a bit of an endurance test, particularly given that we're still getting used to being on California time! The sparsely populated - and cold! - venue filled up a little more, but was by no means full for Idlewild's entrance at 9.30. We'd chatted briefly with Idlewild's guitarist, working the merch stand, who'd confirmed that the band weren't very big in the US. T'uh, you really don't know what you're missing, America!

Anyway, Rach and I were down the front - along, oddly, with a couple of lads from Bristol! - as Idlewild came on and proceeded to rock our socks off. Their usually slick, toned-down REM-influenced rock was potent and powerful in a smaller venue, and their older, more frantic material really stood out in this more ragged, less slick but no less exciting set. An early "When I Argue I See Shapes" set the tone for this fast and ragged approach, the 3-pronged guitar/ bass boys throwing shapes and adopting Johnny Ramone-like poses as they rocked out. "Modern Way Of Letting Go" was particularly mad, all seething guitar and snappy finish, yet they were still able to do justice to their slower, more anthemic numbers, "American English" in particular receiving a great ovation after an epic rendition. "Roseability" (which we were pleased to hear on our honeymoon!) was superb, as was a jagged, acerbic "Film 4" encore, Roddy (who'd been in relaxed, almost playful mood throughout the performance) crouching down inches from us to deliver the impassioned vocal. You'd never get that close in the UK! Great stuff. We grabbed a set-list and got it signed afterwards by drummer Colin, before taxi-ing back to our hotel. Little did we know we'd have the chance to complete the signature set later - in LA!

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