Live Review

Idlewild, The Box, Crewe

It’ll be a sad day when Idlewild decide it’s no longer worth it.

If you live in London, you’re wishing you could party in New York. If you’re in Manchester, you eye up the gigs in London with envy. If you’re in Crewe, it seems, you just get on with it. Whilst down the road a lonely DJ pumps out pop tunes to an empty dancefloor at local pub The Barrel, the town’s alternative venue is set to play host to one of its biggest acts of the year. With The Bluetones and The Pipettes on upcoming gig list in amongst tribute acts like Green Date, Genesish and a The Who cover band called My Generation, The Box hardly feels like a venue for a band on the way up. Nobody has told that to the 400 or so attendees tonight, however.

By the time Sparrow and the Workshop take to the stage for their support slot, the venue is already nearly full. Their set is solid if forgettable, but the crowd seem to warm to singer Jill O’Sullivan’s tuneful musings. A few years ago, you could almost imagine the band earning hours of radio play time, but with so many other artists treading similar ground they lack the bite to set them apart. However, the Glasgow-based three piece have more than enough potential and, judging by the swaying of the few hundred people in attendance, they’ve certainly found a few more admirers in the birth of passenger railway.

Their enthusiasm for the warm-up is immediately dwarfed by the arrival of the main act. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the band’s first visit to the town or the thought that it may be their last proper tour, but either way the crowd are excited to see Idlewild. The bands more recent jaunts around the country have been noted for their inclusion of fan favourites from early in their career that they’d seemed to rule out and the band seem to be carrying on the trend. After a few well-received tracks from latest album ‘Post-Electric Blues’, the band revert to the classics.

In the lead up to 2007’s ‘Make Another World’, Roddy claimed their first two albums were ‘just fliers for our gigs’, whilst saying their debut single ‘Queen Of The Troubled Teens’ was ‘rubbish’. Whilst there might not be a trace of that particular song in the setlist, the efforts from their salad days are what get the crowd going. As the 14 year olds who’ve managed to sneak a couple of lagers from unbothered bar staff get drunk, the dancing at the front becomes rowdier. Aware that it isn’t 1998 anymore, the band have toned down a few of the rougher edges of their work, meaning the shrieks and yelps from ‘Annihilate Now!’ are gone, but the sentiment remains.

The spattering of new songs they throw into the mix are far from out of place and though mainstream may have moved elsewhere the band’s quality has not. ‘When I Argue I See Shapes’ is still an A-list indie-pop song, ‘A Modern Way Of Letting Go’ is as relevant as anything you’ll hear on Radio 1 at the minute and ‘I Live In A Hiding Place’ retains the poetic wit that won it so many hearts in the first place.

The band aren’t young anymore, and as the crowd stomp their feet and beg for their return during their two minute break before the encore, it’s obvious why they’re still doing what they do. Split between five members, a couple of hundred tickets at £15 each hardly justifies spending time in a van, far from friends and family. Having the ability to pack out a room in a small town and have every one of them sing back the words to a song as good as American English is a rare talent, however, and it’ll be a sad day when Idlewild decide it’s no longer worth it - just ask the people of Crewe.

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