Idlewild @ Anson Rooms, Bristol, 12/12/2015

IdlewildIt’s been over 15 years since Idlewild played this venue and a lot has changed in that time. Frontman Roddy has enjoyed a sojourn into the solo world of folk music, releasing some well received solo albums and playing numerous folk festivals and venues up and down the land, and this has an obvious impact on the show tonight.

This isn’t the first time Idlewild have acted as their own support here in Bristol with a split set – doing the whole acoustic/plugged in split when they played The Fleece back in 2008. And as lovely as the acoustic set is, the old skool Idlewild fans in the room, the ones who fell in love with the post-rock angst of the Captain EP or debut album Hope Is Important; they are perpetually waiting for the bite which just doesn’t come.

At times Roddy appears to be channelling Mark Owen, easy on the eye and easy on the ears but a far cry from the Roddy of the early 00s. The addition of a fiddle to the set, expertly played by Hannah Fisher, is not an obvious one – but one which creates another dimension to the old favourites, songs such as "These Wooden Ideas", "The Bronze Medal" and "In The Remote Part / Scottish Fiction".

The musicians which now make up Idlewild are a motley bunch – each looking like they’re also in another band of various genres. The multi-talented group swaps and changes instruments, flitting between keys and strings like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

"When I Argue I See Shapes" should be (and indeed has been in previous years) great live, but with this rearrangement there’s an ongoing sense of anticipation as you wait patiently for the kick that never comes. If there’s one person on stage to appease the early Idlewild crew, it’s guitarist Rod Jones who would not be out of place in any number of post-rock bands; especially when it comes to the electric set, where "Captain" delivers with its fierce lo-fi vibe.

After fan favourite "Little Discourage", Roddy remarks: “Bristol, you have come alive!” and he’s not wrong. The old favourite sees most of the room singing along and a tame mosh pit start to form at the front. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s 2000 single "Roseability" which proves the biggest hit of the night – a sing-a-long anthem from the youth of the crowd, many of whom are now in their late 30s/early 40s.

The encore mirrors the London one the previous night – including "I Am A Message", "A Modern Way of Letting Go" and "You Held The World In Your Arms" - winning trio of songs from the back catalogue and great choice to leave people feeling satisfied.

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