Being home now for three days, I still can’t let go of my London trip, so I thought I’d better write it all down. As I should be writing a term paper for English Studies right now, I can at least excuse myself with the thought that I’m practising my written English here.
So I went to London for a few days with my best friend, which was great fun, and felt like coming home in a way. I have never lived in London or anywhere else in GB, but every time I go there it feels like I should stay. Even more so in Scotland, in fact, although I like my home country and love the city I live in. Still, there is something about this country which always evokes this terrible, terrible Fernweh (there simply is no English word for that, sorry) for which there is no cure.
But I’ll start at the beginning. This will be a post about Idlewild, actually, as the purpose of our trip was to see them play live at the Roundhouse in London, because my friend couldn’t go to any of their shows in Germany. This was feeling a bit crazy at first as London is expensive as hell compared to my life here and I had already seen them play a 15 min bicycle ride away from my home. But it turned out to be the most brilliant idea ever.
This gig at the Roundhouse was for sure the best concert I have ever seen, and I have been to many, many concerts as I’m an almost regular festival-goer. Among the things I’ve seen are gigs like Placebo at the Gloria (a really small venue), Franz Ferdinand and Mando Diao from the first row when they weren’t that famous yet, Kaiser Chiefs and Billy Talent in a spray of water from fire trucks that tried to keep people from fainting in the sun and so on.
But I’ve never been as blown away as I was at the Roundhouse.
Well, as you can guess from the title of this blog, I’m a huge Idlewild fan, so that might not be so surprising. Still, the Roundhouse was special. I have seen Idlewild twice before, in Dundee in 2010 and in Cologne a few days before, and both were fantastic shows – but what made the Roundhouse so great was at least in part the audience.
My memory is already beginning to fade, as during the concert I was constantly occupied with not getting crushed and therefore could not focus as much on the stage as I wanted to, but I try to remember at least some things. My friend and I were standing in the second row as by the time we arrived luckily for us almost nobody was there yet. And because it was none of these gigs were people queue for hours and then race to the stage to get the best places in the first row, we assumed it would be kind of nice and quiet (as it had been in Dundee and Cologne). Well, nothing of the sort. When You Held the World in Your Arms started as 2nd song, we were pushed to the front by a giant wave behind us and the mosh pit was open. It took me some songs to get accustomed to that, to let that feeling of annoyance go when you are hit on the head by some drunken guys, get beer thrown at you from somewhere behind, and have to fight for your breathing space, but in the end, the point came at which I could just go with the flow and pogo dance like the rest of them and it was the best thing ever.
Speaking of GUYS. I found it really fascinating that the audience seemed to be made up of at least 80% men, at least in the front where we were standing. I never considered Idlewild to be “music for guys”, but I can’t even say why. I was just surprised maybe because they make the kind of music that appeals to me so much, and as I’m a girl I thought all the other girls out there would love them too. Well. Maybe they do. Maybe it was the mosh pit and girls are not into that so much. I could understand that, guys’ elbows are tough and if you’re small, it takes a lot of courage for that kind of thing (I don’t have it and I’m not small).
When I had overcome this phase of acclimatisation though, it was simply incredible to stand there, in the middle of this huge crowd of people that all sang along to every single song of this band I love so much, and which nobody at home knows. I always have to say things like “Well, they’re a Scottish band, they make a kind of indie rock, you wouldn’t know them…” and now there was this huge mass of people who felt like relatives in a way. It was like we shared some kind of code, like we were all in a secret society of some sort. I never experienced anything like that before. And as much as I was annoyed sometimes, because people were singing and shouting so loud that I could not properly hear Roddy’s voice, this was indescribably great. I still get the goosebumps. The best thing probably was to see Roddy and the others smile and marvel at the audience as if they couldn’t believe it (watch the video of Love Steals Us From Loneliness below, you can see the smile there if you look closely ;)).
This was the happiest, most enthusiastic crowd I have ever been in, and maybe you don’t see that too often, even as a band. I think everyone was just so overly happy to have them back, and in London all these enthusiastic people came together because it seems to be the most central place for everyone. (The Roundhouse is an awesome venue, by the way. Looks great, feels great, we even got free water in the first rows, like at festivals when the sun is burning everyone away.) I don’t think I will ever forget that feeling, at least I hope not. As I said, the images are already fading, as my memory is terrible and I had to focus on ‘surviving’ so much, but the feeling, I’m trying to preserve that.
There are many bands I love and have obsessed about for some time, but, new albums are often not as good as the ones before, and bands that have a peak at some time fade into the background and then vanish from my music radar as time progresses. With Idlewild, it’s completely different. For me, they have always been in the background, and I have always needed a longer amount of time to get enthusiastic about their albums (even the first ones I got to know – 100 Broken Windows and The Remote Part (through the big sister of a friend, whose boyfriend was in a band himself) – I had to listen to for a lot of times before I really became a fan). With Everything Ever Written it was like that, too. I was so looking forward to it that I was kind of – confused when I listened to it for the first time. As all the others, it needed some time to work its magic on me, but now, it has. Despite this comparably long time I need to get the feeling for their songs (or maybe because of it) they always end up being the ones that speak to me on some unexplainable level, conveying a message I don’t fully understand myself, like poetry, and stay with me forever. (BTW, if anyone wants to discuss Idlewild lyrics, please email me! ;))
All the reviews out there are right – the band is sounding better than ever, the fiddle is an absolutely great addition and the backing vocals at the shows just blow you away (the way they do I Understand It now – wow). And they have retained all the old qualities, Roddy’s amazing warm voice of course, the lyrics and the melodies that always go right through me, as if these guys somehow knew me inside out. Roddy said in some interview (or on the blog?) that music was a form of communication, and I have wondered about that for some time now. I think he’s right – so what they are saying seems to be exactly what I need to hear in so many cases. So, thank you so much for coming back and communicating some more!
If anyone read this far – sorry for gushing like that, I’m still a bit over-excited I guess. If you don’t know Idlewild, listen to the videos I posted here, and of course buy the new album :) I want to see these guys happy!
I wanted to link to Nothing I Can Do About It on YouTube at this point, as its my favourite song from the new album so far – but stupid GEMA blocks it in Germany. Well, I can at least link to the album trailer I guess, so here it is:
What I can also recommend is the interviews and performances they have done for “The Skinny” – sounds way better than all those mobile phone recordings!