I feel something of an imposter tonight at the Empire. I may own two Idlewild albums but I certainly don’t live and breathe them like the other 1999 people in the sell-out audience. Later, when I try to get a drink, I discover that you can add a few more to the total above as the majority of the bar staff are too busy rocking to the indie punksters on stage to serve anyone!
Idlewild have been around since late 1995 and have built a following touring, earning a reputation for high-energy, chaotic gigs. Tonight’s audience know what they are going to get and are bang up for it. The band come on in front of 100 in huge numbers over the back wall of the stage, the amps are turned up to 10 and beyond and then the knobs snapped off. The mosh pit is up and running the moment the first chord is struck and immediately there is a race to be the first crowd surfer dragged over the top into the security pit. Everyone here feels they ‘are’ Idlewild, the mosh pit extends all the way back to the sound desk and they are pogo-ing up in ‘the gods’. Throwing yourself around on balconies that high cannot be sensible and is surely only taken up by the possessed.
Roddy Woomble, the lead singer, is a wee Scot with aggro who looks a little bit like Ewan McGregor. The bassist, Bob Fairfoull, with big blonde hair trailing, runs more marathons than Jimmy Saville, covering the whole stage as if avoiding missiles. Rod Jones on guitar, and the youngest member of the group Colin Newton on drums complete the ensemble.
Don’t think that Idlewild are just noise as behind the chaotic energy are crafted songs. At one stage Woomble quaintly thanks everyone in this ‘room’ for coming and sincerely hopes they are having a good time, before attacking his microphone. Idlewild keep up a relentless pace throughout.
I feel less of an imposter now and I will certainly be back for more; Idlewild are fantastic. After a three song encore, Woomble ends tonight’s performance with the chant “I am the message, I am the message, I am…” And f*ck me, I believe he is.