The band support Coldplay at a homecoming gig after their split with Bob – and fans mount a campaign to bring him back…
IDLEWILD played their first gig without departed bass player Bob Fairfoull in front of a 10,000-capacity home crowd at Glasgow’s SECC last night (Friday, October 4), on the opening night of their biggest UK tour to date, supporting Coldplay.
Frontman Roddy Woomble made no reference to Fairfoull’s absence on stage during their 40-minute set.
Between the songs ‘Century After Century’ and ‘Stay The Same’, he commented: “This is the first night of our tour with Coldplay. I’m quite glad it’s in Glasgow.” The rest of his communication with the crowd was limited to brief pleasantries and between song thank you’s.
While the majority of the crowd was supportive of the band on one of the biggest non-festival UK shows of their career, singing along and giving them an enthusiastic reception, there was clearly some disappointment, with reports of a group of fans chanting “Bring back Bob”.
As previously reported on NME.COM, an official statement on Thursday (October 3) cited ‘personal problems’ as the reason for Fairfoull’s departure, while internet rumours pointed to a fight between the bassist and Woomble. It comes at the pinnacle of the band’s commercial success to date, with their third full-length album ‘The Remote Part’ entering the charts at Number Three and spawning a Top 10 hit in ‘You Held The World In Your Arms’ and Top 20 single ‘American English’.
Idlewild have been in intensive rehearsals with replacement Alex Grant – a long-serving guitar tech in the band’s crew and a member of Glasgow band Desalvo – since Fairfoull’s departure on Tuesday during their European dates.
The practise sessions had clearly paid off, and Grant put in a solid performance, focusing intensely throughout and working closely with drummer Colin Newton, who gave him encouragement between songs. He made little eye contact with the audience, concentrating instead on the set.
But while it was an accomplished if uneventful performance by the group, the dynamic of Fairfoull’s famously energetic, thrashing performances to Woomble’s left on stage was conspicuous by its absence.
While some fans had been unaware of his sudden departure until the band walked on stage, others expressed trepidation about seeing the band perform without him.
“It’s always been the four of Idlewild against the world, and I think it’s great that they’re finally getting recognition and doing well, but it’s never going to be the same with one of them gone,’ said Mark McKechnie, 27, from Perth. “I got my ticket ages ago, and I was shocked when I heard Bob had left. It doesn’t seem like Idlewild. He’s always great to watch, he gave it an unpredictable edge.”
Cousins Jen Baillie (21) and Mark Baillie (20), both from Edinburgh, have been into the band for four years, and didn’t know Bob had left until the band took the stage. “I thought he was ill or something, then someone told us he’d left,” said Jen. “I didn’t think it was as good, because the new bass player wasn’t at the front. He’s a really good player, but that energy on stage is what we want.
“It won’t affect the records, but live it won’t be the same. It’s a shame. I used to always watch Bob. Now you’re more drawn towards Roddy.”
Mark added: “I want to see an energetic band on stage, and Bob was always energetic. They didn’t move around so much tonight. I also thought they played too much of the new stuff. It was probably a crowd-pleasing set.”
Astrid Morrison (20), from Crieff, has seen the band 19 times. “It’s not the same. Alex looks the part and he did well. But the essence of Idlewild was Bob just being himself. It’s very strange being at a show and him not being there. He is Idlewild. People were chanting “Bring back ‘Bob’. He gave it the rock thing. I didn’t think Roddy put as much into it tonight.
“But they did all right. I’m proud of them for getting to arena size. When I heard they were doing an arena tour, I didn’t think Bob wouldn’t like it, I think the others have adjusted to this new found success better.”
The set-list for the show ran:
‘You Held The World In Your Arms’
‘I Am A Message’
‘I Am What I Am Not’
‘Tell Me Ten Words’
‘When I Argue’
‘Century After Century’
‘Stay The Same’
‘Live In A Hiding Place’
The tour continues tonight (October 5) at Newcastle Arena, then calls at:
Birmingham National Indoor Arena (October 7)
Nottingham Arena (8)
Manchester MEN Arena (11)
Brighton Centre (14)
Bournemouth International Centre (15)
Plymouth Pavilion (17)
Port Talbot Afon Lido Leisure Centre (18)
London Wembley Arena (20, 21)
Belfast Odyssey Arena (23)
Dublin The Point (25)