LIVE REVIEW: Idlewild at O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London

IDLEWILD celebrates 25 years as a band with special November anniversary shows 1
Credit: Donald Milne

Having an anniversary tour when a band's significant album reached a poignant milestone is hardly an original concept. Still, with more artists doing these anniversary tours, they can be considered modern and part of the zeitgeist. For Idlewild, their third LP, The Remote Part, turned 20 in 2022. Being the LP which brought the Scottish outfit their highest charting LP and two of their highest charting singles, Idlewild was hoping that this album would still hold sway.

The Forum was warmed up by a superb support band Voke Gentle who incorporated the best of Arcade Fire and Of Monsters And Men; as soon as Idlewild began playing the opening song from The Remote Part, "You Held the World in Your Arms", the audience was putty in the bands' hands. With a seven-piece band, the strings and all the finer arrangements could be captured in this galvanising rock song. No wonder "You Held the World in Your Arms" was the lead single that entered the top ten.

The question one needs to ask now is, did Idlewild put their best foot forward and not have anything left in reserves to maintain momentum? The short answer is no. As Idlewild played The Remote Part sophomore track "A Modern Way of Letting Go", the song's more tenacious, rockier and grittier sound continued to elevate an already excitable audience further. When the more downtempo "American English" followed, Idlewild proved they were more than just the bangers and could hit an audience with emotions. In contrast, Roddy Woomble's already enunciated lyrics had a significant impact as he sang, "Maybe your young without youth or maybe you're old without knowing anything's true…."

Whilst the audience expected The Remote Part songs to be performed with their original compositions, having a seven-piece live band enabled Idlewild to improve the synchronised cacophonies of the original recording. The organs live on "I Never Wanted" were more apparent, as were the strings with "(I Am) What I Am Not". Woomble's ability to tenderise and evoke emotion from the more solemn songs reached its zenith with "Live in a Hiding Place". The band then got the Forum to move about again with the hard-hitting "Out of Routine". By the time Idlewild had finished performing the eleventh and final track from The Remote Part, "In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction", which included a spoken-word narrative from the now-deceased Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, it was evident that this third LP was a timeless classic. The LP artwork had earned its right to hang as a backdrop.

With the original The Remote Part clocking in at just over 40 minutes, this meant that the remaining 50 minutes of the show would consist of songs from the rest of Idlewild's back catalogue. Idlewild decided to tell their career story with tracks from their debut mini-album Captain to songs from their most recent LP Interview Music. Idlewild included the B-side "A Distant History", too. Most of the remaining songs came from The Remote Part's precursor, 100 Broken Windows and follow-up Warnings/Promises. Nonetheless, Idlewild had deftly injected something into their sound, which meant that most of the songs played received an equally high reception leaving the audience elevated. This was demonstrated when the band chose to play out with "A Film for the Future" from their 1998 debut LP Hope Is Important.

From knowing which songs fans would most want to hear, Idlewild knew which items of merchandise fans most wanted to purchase. With the crowd having queued in the blistering cold snow, fans were pleased to see that Idlewild beanie hats were for sale in five different colours. Naturally, The Remote Part t-shirts were available too.

The Remote Part being played in full was always going to fill the Forum, but it was the band's ability to impress with a cross-section of material that captivated fans and will continue to draw fans to live shows consistently.

Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 331 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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