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Idlewild, The Twilight Sad, Desert Hearts
"Some people have no f***king taste" bemoans Charlie Mooney, just a touch puzzled at the lack of recognition afforded Desert Hearts. He has a point. Tonight the three-piece are on scathing form, their set joyously malevolent, guitars brutally contorted, bass full of dread and drums formidably dynamic. The Rasputin-bearded Mooney spits out lyrics flecked with poison, 'Gravitas', inviting regret, is emotionally devastating.

Desert Hearts can be sincere, they can be sarcastic, but always they are captivating. Only the thinness of the vocals mars this performance, the singers being overwhelmed by the thundering sonics. But, songs such as the brilliantly shape-shifting 'D Moon Pilot' and the unquenchable desire of 'Sea Punk' leave an indelible mark.

The vicious squall of guitars and anguished tones of the singer, Glasgow's The Twilight Sad have obviously been brushing up on their Jesus and Mary Chain. Unfortunately no amount of study will enable them to emulate the genius of their noise-rock predecessors, they simply don't have the songwriting know-how. The frontman stands in side profile to the audience, wringing words through a deep baritone that recalls The Tindersticks, and though the voice and some disturbingly acute lyrics rouses the interest, the dourness of the music fails them, the infinite screech becoming numbing and empty.

From the grunge-rock frenzy of 'Queen of the Troubled Teens' through the pristine indie-rock of 'The Remote Part' and, almost full circle, the fury and efficiency of 'Make Another World', the last ten years have been a curious journey for Idlewild, a voyage distinguished by a flirtation with the big-time and, not least, by intuitive melodies and the garnering of a devoted fanbase. Tonight the faithful are out in force, lured by the promise of a distinguished, heavy hitting set. Idlewild make good on that promise.

From the face-pounding clang of 'Little Discourage' to the sumptuous ruminations of 'El Capitan', Idlewild make transitions in tempo and approach with conspicuous ease. 'American English' is a work of towering majesty, the audience attracted to the chorus as surely as iron filings to a magnet. The long-time fans love every minute of course, but fall especially hard for renditions of older, rarely heard fare, 'Captain' a shock of stinging guitar and Roddy Woomble's enraged yelp creates a maelstrom of slamming bodies amongst the front rows. Woomble is polite, but a little subdued, he thanks us, but keeps between songs banter to a minimum.

No matter, the closing, head-down, heart-stirring rush of 'You Held The World In Your Arms' provides consolation in abundance.

Francis Jones

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Gig Details
Venue: Mandela Hall
Location: Belfast
Date: 2nd November 2007


Related Links
+ Idlewild
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