Tuesday, 18 October 2011

829 RODDY WOOMBLE, Duotone, Swindon Arts Centre, Friday 14 October 2011

I had cause to be grateful that our Chinese food order wasn’t ready for collection when the shop said so, whilst visiting my parents for the obligatory family meal a few weeks back! Waiting impatiently for my prawn curry to cook, I absent-mindedly flicked through a Swindon Arts Centre brochure, to discover Roddy Woomble, main man with our enduring “live” favourites and purveyors of windswept, slightly frantic indie guitar epics, Idlewild, was bringing his folkier, rootsier side vehicle to Swindon ! Result! So Rach booked a couple of tickets and we were set for another “live” Rod experience; my 14th, all told!

So we left before the kids went to bed – just to hammer the point home that we’ve gone out and they’re being babysat! – and had a drink in the Vic, before trundling around to the Arts Centre just before performance time at 8. It’s been gutted and renovated since my only previous visit (Dead Men Walking) and is now a smart little seated theatre room. Took our allotted seats, dead centre, half a dozen rows back, for support Duotone. They were a bowler-hatted and waist-coated duo playing an eclectic array of instruments (including a percussion floor box, similar to one I “played” at Stone Honey’s Hollywood Hills party on our honeymoon!) through computer loops, producing a layered, occasionally morose but often quaint and homely pastoral Olde Worlde folkish sound. Some nice harmony overlays, particularly on their best number “You Don’t Need Church”, which recalled Hobotalk.

We chatted with fellow gig-goers Peej and Mandy in the downstairs café whilst browsing the Arts Centre library (!) during the intermission, before another handy “five minute call” prompted us back to our seats for the arrival of the raffishly hirsute Roddy and his 5-piece band, dead on 9. His set showcased current solo album “The Impossible Song And Other Songs”, along with previous solo effort “My Secret Is My Silence”, a fine canon of slow-burn folky introspection, and if it occasionally veered towards trad folky fiddly-diddly, there was always an Idlewild-like cascading and tumbling chorus (e.g. “Into The Atlantic”, or “Leaving Without Gold”) around the corner, and Roddy’s nasal but warm vocals to capture the heart.

A lot of the material also featured remote Scottish references, including a song about the A87, “the road that goes through Skye!” and another, the excellent devotional “Take Me To The Island”, referencing a Western Isles ferry company that had apparently been awarded “World’s Best Ferry Company” by “The Guardian”! “So if there are any employees of [said company] holidaying in Swindon , you should feel very proud of yourselves,” announced Rod, to which I couldn’t resist adding the rejoinder, “thank you – I am!” Rod, a fine and relaxed raconteur throughout, was also complimentary towards Swindon, saying he and the band had spent a nice afternoon at Lydiard Park, which prompted Rach to whisper, “I wish I’d taken the kids there this afternoon!” The haunting elegy of “Waverly Steps” was an enchanting highlight, and set closer “My Secret Is My Silence” got Rach beaming, whilst their only foray into Idlewild’s songsheet, a stripped back “You Held The World In Your Arms” for voice, acoustic guitar and violin only, was predictably another highlight as first encore. Rod and Co. then delivered a final, jaunty “Roll Along”, to, “send you out into the Swindon night,” and close out a charming little set giving another dimension to one of our indie faves.

That wasn’t it though, as I blagged a set-list afterwards from the band manning the merch stand, and we chatted to a personable Roddy and co awhile, reminiscing about following Idlewild around California on our honeymoon, 6 years ago this month! Result - again!

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