Roddy Woomble @ St Andrew’s in the Square

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As dusk falls on the Merchant City before Roddy Woomble’s set in St Andrew’s square, it falls on this years Celtic Connections at the same time…

For the fourth year running an estimated gross return of £1million from over 100,000 tickets shows a welcome and vital consistency lacking in so many modern festivals. Helped by the wide range of music talent and expansive network of  international visitors, it has added to Glasgow’s profile as a major tourist destination…

Having released his debut solo album ‘My Secret is My Silence’ in 2006, Roddy Woomble has since been paving a new direction for himself among the folk circuit in Scotland. The change in sound has also been reflected in Idlewild’s most recent album ‘Post Electric Blues’ released last year. Tonight’s gig saw a stripped back performance of new and older solo songs in the mightily impressive St Andrew’s in the Square venue.

Roddy Woomble, Image: Dave Hunter

Playing with a new backing band and without the usual ‘folk supergroup’ of Kris Drever and John McCusker in tow, Woomble seemed especially eager to gauge the audience’s reaction to his new material.  With everyone sitting down it was never going to be a rapturous occasion but the crowd reacted well to the more upbeat ‘New Frontier’ and the travel induced ‘Hour after Hour’. New single ‘Roll Along’  (also from the humourously titled new album ‘The Impossible Song & Other Songs’) was topped off by Woomble questioning “Do you think it will be a hit? I doubt it.” It’s a truth that Woomble has since come to accept one way or another after Idlewild constantly seemed to teeter with mainstream success. It’s probably more a case of who really wants to be top of the charts these days anyway?

Of course the night wasn’t really complete without at least one Idlewild number to satisfy the punters and ‘You Held the World In Your Arms’ was fantastic in the encore with the violin melody from Seonaid Aitken. Father and son duo of Gordon and Sorren Maclean from The Isle of Mull also supplied double bass and guitar backing for Woomble throughout the set. Other standouts were the title track from ‘My Secret is My Silence’ and the haunting brilliance of ‘Act IV’ from the same album. Overall it was a relaxed and professional set that did exactly what it said in the preview. One exception was that tonight’s performance (unlike Inverness the previous night) strangely didn’t involve any fights breaking out in the crowd. The song ‘Waverly Steps’ apparently “splits opinion” according to Woomble…

Released 21st March: Artwork by Mairi Hedderwick of Katie Morag fame

A more expansive tour is in the pipeline to follow the album and on the evidence from the new influence and direction from Woomble and co, a wee venture out is highly recommended.

Dave Hunter



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