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Roddy Woomble / Aoife O’Donovan

Glasgow O2 ABC (Sunday 26th January)

By • Jan 28th, 2014 • Category: gig reviews

By the time Roddy Woomble and band took to the Celtic Connections stage, the crowd in the ABC had settled snugly into position – somewhere between sitting comfortably on the seats set up on the dance floor and loitering at the back of the venue, beer in hand. Roddy would joke during his set that he had scaled back on band members for the gig, assuming that the venue for tonight’s proceedings would be the smaller ABC 2 venue. Seemingly demand for the show exceeded even his expectations.
Aoife O’Donovan

Before all that though, Aoife O’Donovan took to the stage to entertain the crowd with songs from her latest album Fossils. Lay My Burden Down was heartfelt and delivered in Aoife’s trademark, rich and always right-on-the-money vocal. Backed by a sharp and textured band, songs like ‘Clay Pigeons’ – a John Prine cover – and ‘Red & White & Blue & Gold’ showcased both her skill in making other people’s songs her own and her ability to craft beautiful music which is uniquely hers. She finished her set by inviting her mum onto the stage to sing backing vocals on ‘Oh, Mama’ – a touching moment that finished the set with a flourish.

A quick break followed and the mix of old and young in the audience were ready to hear songs from Roddy and his three-strong band. Highlights from the set were numerous, with younger members of the crowd perhaps more keenly listening out for some Idlewild action – they weren’t to be disappointed.

Roddy Woomble

Opening with ‘A New Day Has Begun’ from his most recent record Listen to Keep, the bass drove the song forward and brought early momentum to the set. What became obvious pretty quickly was that this was going to be a sincere and heartfelt performance by all, but in which Hannah Fisher’s fiddle playing would be given full prominence to shine.

Song choice for the set switched smoothly between Roddy’s three solo offerings. The odd story or line between songs gave the venue a more intimate and cosy feel than what the shadow of the giant disco ball overhead was stating.

‘Every Line of a Long Moment’ was poised effortlessly between dreaming lyrics and pretty backing vocals whilst ‘Roll Along’ provided a gentle toe-tapping moment for the audience.

Roddy Woomble

Idlewild tracks came in the shape of ‘The Quiet Crown’ and ‘You Held the World In Your Arms’. Both versions breathed new life into old Idlewild classics and sounded truly stunning.

A final flourish in ‘Waverley Steps’ from first album My Secret Is My Silence and ‘The Universe Is on My Side’ from Listen to Keep generated rapturous whoops – Roddy seemed surprised by the reaction throughout, almost apologetically thanking the crowd each time they clapped.

The encore saw the band – minus Roddy – come out to play some traditional Scottish music and show off their flair on their individual instruments, of which there was plenty. The atmosphere in the room instantly lifted. Roddy emerged once again, and the final song of the night was revealed. ‘Old Town’ from 2011 album The Impossible Song & Other Songs was a haunting and perfect end to a night of rich and textured music.

Beautiful melodies, wonderful lyrics and expert playing delivered a night of haunting and vivid music from both acts. Truly memorable.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photos by Andrew McKenna

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