Quality control maintained with another corker here - this time from a band who are making me sit up and take notice at last. Indie survivors Idlewild (whom I'd seen first supporting the Warm Jets!) delivered an album in 2002, "The Remote Part", which in one fell swoop fulfilled all their latent potential, and then some. I missed their 2002 tour due to my illness (Rachel went), but I wasn't about to ignore them again! This one, a low-key acoustic gig to bed in some new material, was selling out in front of Rach's eyes on NME.com, but she sorted tix and so I returned to a venue I'd not been to in nearly 15 years and 400 gigs!
Parked behind the Mauretania and hiked up the hill to the venue, a converted church boasting "the best acoustic chamber in Britain", allegedly! Took our seats, a great view stage left from the balcony pews, for 3-piece support Reeve. Led by a painfully thin female guitarist/ violinist with similar vocal inflections to Tanya Donelly, they placed a diverting slow folksy set which passed half an hour pleasantly, and also attracted Idlewild mainman Roddy Woomble's attention - he watched it from the pews adjacent to us!
Had a drink in the cellar bar before taking our pews (literally) for Idlewild, on sharply at 9. My problem with Idlewild in the past had been that they were too, well, frantic, hurried, whatever. This changed with the brilliant "Remote Part", which saw them turn the speed down a notch and allow their sensitive, intelligent little songs room to breathe. In an acoustic environment as tonight, this was accentuated to the max. Opener "When I Argue I see Shapes", normally a sprint, sounded plaintive and moving, and set the tone for the show. Much of the set was drawn from the new album, due in March, and likely to be another corker. Slightly folksy Celtic overtones mix with song structures similar to "Green"-era REM to produce a heady and intriguing mix. Woomble, long-haired and possessed of one of the best names in rock, was the focal point throughout, softly spoken yet mesmerising.
A Robert Burns cover - appropriately, for Burn's Night - and the encore of the strident "American English" were the highlights, but the new single is evidently a contender too. We'll be back to see them in April - plugged in next time!