Monday, April 18

Idlewild @ Rock City, Nottingham
It's perhaps hard to believe, but Idlewild have now been releasing albums for the best part of a decade.

Once they were known for spending half the gig rolling around on the floor, but now they've moved on and are a changed band.

Their recent LP 'Warnings/Promises' was their first as a five-piece, with new members Allan Stewart and Gavin Fox. Although the record doesn't seem to have shifted that many copies, an almost sold out crowd greets them at Rock City.

First up are fellow Scots, Sons and Daughters, who deliver a pleasing selection of Caledonian indie country songs. Featuring former members of Arab Strap, the four-piece comprise two boys and two girls and are dressed in designer 1950s chic.

Imagine if The Corrs had gone to art school and grown up listening to PJ Harvey and Johnny Cash (which is also the name of one of their songs), rather than Fleetwood Mac and you'll have some idea as to what they sound like. With new album 'The Repulsion Box' scheduled for release in May, this is a band to watch.

Idlewild take to the stage in front of a backdrop covered in yellow and red fairy lights. It's straight down to business with crowd favourites 'Little Discourage', 'You Held the World in Your Arms' played early in the set, a sign of confidence in their now bulging back catalogue.

Although he now lives in California, frontman Roddy Woomble clearly hasn't adapted to hot temperatures, as he fans himself and complains about the sauna like atmosphere of the venue. The crowd don't mind of course, as they pogo to fast songs like 'A Modern Way of Letting Go' and soak in the ballads, like the increasingly anthemic 'American English'.

Woomble is a more poised, reflective and languid presence onstage these days, in contrast to the violent stage antics of old.

It is left to guitarist Rod Jones to fling himself around the stage and he does this admirably, without ever missing a note. The addition of new personnel frees him up to experiment more and he is now the undisputed centrepoint and musical powerhouse of the band.

The set is an even mixture of material from their four full length albums. Sadly, we don't get anything from their early mini album 'Captain', but we do get the beautiful piano-led 'El Capitan'. It's the stand out track from their new album and is received warmly by the crowd, although in parts it does bear an uncomfortable resemblance to a Keane track.

The set draws to a close with a brief fire alarm scare before 'Roseability' and the slow and mournful 'Bronze Medal', which has grown into a bit of a fans favourite.

The stage is set for the volume to be turned up for the encore, with three tracks from their more punkier days, 'I Am A Message', 'Everyone Says Your So Fragile' and 'Film For The Future'.

At the end of the set, whilst the rest of the band finally succumb to the urge to roll around on the floor wrestling with their guitars, Woomble calmly sips a bottle of mineral water and surveys the scene with mild detachment. In the past he would probably have joined them down on the deck, adding to the cacophony of noise, but he's now a changed man.

At times you miss the spontaneity and sheer raw energy of the old Idlewild. However, this is more than compensated by the improved songwriting and musicianship of the band.

Quietly and almost unnoticed, Idlewild have matured into one of the finest British guitar groups of their generation. They're older, wiser and they've no longer got grazed knees.