SCOTTISH musician and singer Roddy Woomble has just about covered all bases when he has performed in Shetland in the past.
His first visit to the isles came back in 2002 when his rock band Idlewild – on the same week their third album hit No.3 in the UK chart – performed live for BBC Radio 1 at the North Star in Lerwick.
His next gig was a show four years later alongside folkster John McCusker at the old Johnsmas Foy/Taste of Shetland event on Lerwick’s Victoria Pier – “there were loads of Norwegian sailors eating lamb kebabs while I played” – before he went solo again at Mareel a few years ago.
Woomble will return to the Lerwick arts centre on Saturday 7 October with his own band as he promotes his latest solo record The Deluder.
The album is his fourth full solo effort and it sees the musician strip things back, nodding more to blues and melancholic musings than the indie folk he has often been associated with.
With a record alongside Shetland based musician Kris Drever and McCusker also in his back catalogue, Woomble no longer has to rely old crowd favourites from the 1990s and 2000s when playing live.
“With five albums worth of material, I don’t have to go to Idlewild songs to kind of make the crowd pay the attention,” he said.
“All the people who come are pretty aware of the work I’ve done outside of the band. I think if people come along, they’ll be pretty entertained by some interesting songs.”
Woomble said some of the influences swirling around his band during the album’s writing and recording include Paul McCartney, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, while he himself often takes cues from poetry and literature.
After previously living in cities including Glasgow, London and New York, the Scot is now based on the Isle of Mull – a far cry from the hectic lifestyle he experienced when Idlewild were one of the biggest bands in the UK, touring the world and going gold.
“There’s an element of logistics and travel to make anything work, and that extra cost you put into it…it’s just something that you have to deal with,” he reflected.
It’s strange to think that it is now 15 years since Woomble and Idlewild headed to Shetland to play the North Star.
It was in the same week that their successful record The Remote Part came out, giving islanders a rare chance to watch a band at the height of their fame.
“I remember it because we were supposed to be playing T in the Park at the end of the week, and that was kind of the big thing, and then the Shetland gig was before that, but it was live on Radio 1,” Woomble said.
“Nobody really expected our record to do quite as well. Everyone thought it was maybe going to go into the top 20, but no-one expected it to go to number three. I remember the NME clambering together a feature – they were also supposed to come up to review the Shetland show.
“It was quite exciting – we took people by surprise a little bit. It was like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis and Idlewild as the top three bands in the country selling records at the time. It was surreal, maybe, but it was a good time for the group.”
Idlewild even gave Shetland’s young crew an all ages show in the afternoon – but it appears it was quite the chaotic gig.
“That was a bit strange, because it was like a school disco,” Woomble smiles.
“There were piggyback races across the hall when we were playing. I suppose it was quite sweet.”
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