Idlewild, Concerto For Constantine
Having announced an indefinite hiatus after this tour, tonight's Idlewild show is pretty much unmissable - you never know if or when they'll be back. And it's a shame to think that the demand isn't there anymore as they've been one of the most important British bands since their inception in 1995.
But first up tonight is Concerto For Constantine: an Irish indie super-group, featuring ex-JJ72 singer/guitarist Mark Greaney, ex-Turn (and Idlewild) bassist Gavin Fox and ex-Frames and Bell X1 drummer Paul Brennan. The last time they were in Belfast, they supported The Smashing Pumpkins. And it's the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Muse and hints of Nirvana that come to mind when listening to CFC (with an ounce of classical influence). Greaney's more like a rock-star now than he was in JJ72, trading his high-pitched vocals for a (mostly) deeper growl. CFC have potential; they're proficient musicians with plenty of experience in successful bands but at the minute they're still trying to find their own sound.
Idlewild take to the stage and wow, they're all looking very skinny. Are times really that hard in camp Idlewild? Someone needs to buy these guys a haggis bap. The sound in the Stiff Kitten tonight is very loud, the guitars are distorting and a bit of clarity has been lost in favour of sheer noise.
'Roseability' is the highlight of the opening few songs. We're also treated to 'Love Steals Us From Loneliness', 'You Held The World In Your Arms' and a couple of slower songs including 'Make Another World'. Roddy introduces the next song as "a quieter one" before playing 'The Night Will Bring You Back To Life'. It shows how much their music has changed when they play some slower, quieter songs before introducing a quieter song.
'When I Argue I See Shapes' is dedicated to "those who've been coming to see us for a very long time", but Roddy isn't belting out these songs like he did 10 years ago. The strained vocals and shouts are nowhere to be seen, losing the passion and aggression of the songs witnessed in previous performances. Instead Roddy is singing 'properly'. It's good but it's not the way it's meant to be - where's the emotion?
The crowd are mostly static, maybe that's part of the problem, but the last few albums have been aimed at a more mature audience, so it was never likely to be any other way. During the instrumental parts, Roddy exits to the side of the stage - maybe he's trying to give the other guys in the band the spotlight, but it comes across like he just doesn't want to be there.
We're treated to a load more songs and the 'encore' (without the pretence of leaving the stage and coming back) including Everyone Says You're So Fragile, In Remote Part and A Modern Way of Letting Go. And that's it over. It's been a good gig, but Idlewild seemed like a band going through the motions. Maybe it's because they've announced their hiatus. Maybe it's because they're getting older. Maybe there's just not as much to be angry about when you're married with kids having sold millions of records. Hopefully the break will allow Idlewild to get the fire back, find their inspiration and come out fighting. Because tonight, they seem like a band content on being 'good' when they used to be great.