Idlewild - The Mill Preston - 4.7.05

The last time I saw these wily Scots was at the Royal Northern College Of Music in Manchester as part of their acoustic tour. It made a change to see a rock band in a fully seated theatre toning down their act, to just the songs breathe for a change. Tonight it's business as usual with a fully charged rock gig (their first in Preston) as a warm up for their forthcoming support dates for REM. It's a ho, sticky, sweaty night ahead as we wait very patiently for what seems like an eternity.

Finally, one by one Idlewild casually stroll on the stage. The youngsters of whom there are many here tonight welcome the band warmly. Roddy Woomble looks too delicate and sensitive to front such a raucous rock band, but his folky tinged voice is perfectly pitched for the loud guitars which are the sound of Idlewild. When he champions how good the fish and chips are in this thriving fine city he is met with approval from the proud Prestonians in attendance.

Roddy seems happy to be playing in a slightly smaller venue than usual, perhaps reminding him of the early days of being in the band. Tracks from new album "Warnings / Promises" benefit greatly from a live sound with all members of the band pulling together, creating a tight sound, playing with vigour and jamming brilliantly with a sense of urgency. "God Steals Us From Loneliness" is the sound of Idlewild maturing on a hook laden chorus, a million miles away from the unlistenable racket they started out with originally many years ago. There's golden oldies played as well like "Hiding Place" and my own personal favourite, the power charged anthem "A Little Discourage".

Taking an acoustic route for one song, they treat us to "Not Only Sometimes But Always" which is layered in three part harmonies which gives the pogo-ing crowd a bit of a rest although bass player Gavin Fox is sweating profusely at this juncture which Roddy is keen to point out to everyone.

"I See Shapes" and You Held The World In Your Arms Tonight" raise the roof with elation as a feeling of euphoria fills the room. I've never seen Idlewild enjoy themselves so much. REM fans have a lot to look forward to with such an impressive band on the horizon. They've still got a few tricks up their sleeves to surprise even the most fanatical of their followers. Coming back on Idlewild celebrate the fact that it's Independence Day by dedicating a track to the drummer and his hometown by covering Lynard Skinners "Sweet Home Alabama" with a great degree of affection. They eclipse this with another cover, the punk track "I Wanna Be Sedated" which sees Idlewild really having fun after an exhilarating ninety minute set.

I came here as a fan and left even more of a fan. Tonight Idlewild rocked Preston to it's very foundations

Nicholas Paul Godkin
Live Photos: Drew Harrison (

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