The last time Roddy Woomble brought his solo show to Glasgow it was a chilly January evening in the middle of a bustling Celtic Connections, tonight’s show may be on a warm late-summer’s day, but both Woomble and Sorren Maclean make music that feels like the moment you wrap a duvet around yourself on a pouring winter night.
It is rare to experience a live show upstairs in the Oran Mor (the typical venue is below the main building), so with a picturesque backdrop including Alasdair Gray’s paintings, Woomble’s last solo Glasgow show for some time has an eventful feel to it.
Maclean’s opening set varies between enthusiastic foot-tappers and mellow ballads – all of them beautiful, and very representative of Scottish folk music.
His confidence and control of music is quite something, acting very much as a band leader both in his opening set and Woomble’s as well, nodding and making eye contact with everyone on stage to keep them in check, letting them know when to progress on to the next passage, and when to round the song up.
Striking the perfect balance between simplicity and and complexity, with occasional guitar runs involving lightning fast fingers, Maclean’s performance is a winner, here and as Woomble’s guitarist.
The main set seems to fly past, Roddy Woomble‘s songs are not any shorter than most other songs, but he and his band race through tracks from all three solo albums and throw in a few Idlewild tracks for good measure.
More so than any other album, the songs from Listen To Keep really benefit from being performed live, ‘Trouble Your Door’ is one of the most upbeat tracks of the night, while ‘The Last One of my Kind’ shines with its vocal harmonies.
A slowed down ‘I Came in From the Mountain’ is a delicate gem among a lively set, complimented by Idlewild tracks ‘Goodnight’ and ‘Quiet Crown’, despite Woomble’s solo material taking inspiration from folk music, he rarely slows down to the point where the music can be considered gentle, so the acoustic arrangements of the Idlewild tracks are special in that they are the most tender tracks in his arsenal.
‘Waverly Steps’ could be his best solo outing and is rightly a live-set staple since it has everything that makes up his strongest songs: subtle acoustic guitars, a charmingly catchy chorus, all held together by Woomble’s effortless vocal delivery.
With a new Idlewild album slated for release at the beginning of next year, this will be the last of his solo shows in Glasgow for a while, ending with ‘Old Town’ is a triumphant note to end on for now, with its slow-build crescendo that erupts into an extended jam.
Woomble has found his voice in the folk scene of Scotland, so he will undoubtedly come back to this material at some point.
An Idlewild return is absolutely welcomed, but we’re all the more lucky for Roddy having two successful creative outlets.
Word: Scott Wilson
Photos: Bill Gray