Roddy Woomble | She Makes War
The Globe, Cardiff
Sunday 22nd October 2017
In a recent interview, Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble stated that; “my solo band shows attract an older audience generally.” He wasn’t wrong.
Looking around at the venue’s modestly sized crowd, there were a significant amount of men approximately aged 40 and over, leaning against the bar with their plastic pints, waiting for the show to start.
It wasn’t long until the room was introduced to She Makes War (or Laura as she liked to refer to herself as) a young woman with glitter on a face, armed with an oddly shaped electric guitar and a blue ukulele.
With a look similar to Bowie and a great sense of self confidence, SMW looked like she was ready to deliver something impressive. Instead what came of it was down strummed, power chords and a voice that lacked any intensity or emotion like if Thom Yorke and Cat Power performed a duet for the sake of a B-Side.
Call this a false start however, as this only applied to the first couple of tracks of the set, things truly became interesting with the inclusion of the loop pedal. Many artists tend to use loop pedals as a gimmicky showstopper. She Makes War on the other hand used them purely for the sake of instrumentation, as she’d use it alongside her ukulele to subtly add bass lines and melody, essentially filling out where her backing band would be.
Delete was an exception to the rule, abandoning all instruments but vocal loops, SMW really began to show her true colours as she climbed off stage repeating “I’d like to delete myself” like mantra as she walked though a rather confused crowd. Despite the mixed reception of that move, it felt truly bold and helped break up what was mainly an acoustic set.
So far this review of Roddy Woomble’s performance has barely mentioned the man himself. The reason for this is that there wasn’t exactly a lot to talk about.
What made Woomble’s most recent record The Deluder so captivating is how it favoured creating atmosphere in order to compliment the writing, even if it meant taking the minimalist approach to the music itself.
Look Back Like We’re Leaving is the first track of the record and the first song of the night. Focusing heavily on the drums, piano and Woomble’s vocal, the band not only recreated the atmosphere but also build upon it with an expanded instrumental at the end. It is worth noting that at this point Woomble stood to the side of the stage and for a brief moment you could see the joy as his art came to life before his eyes.
With such a great start it’s a shame that moments like it were very few and far between.
Instead there was a large focus on performing tracks from Woomble’s previous records. It was entertaining to begin with and gave the true fans something to cheer about, but it did soon become stale.
It’s not so much a problem with the performance as the band proved themselves as very capable as they constantly switched instruments and adapted to the ever changing nature of the set list. A lot of these tracks were very band heavy, throwing out any notion of melody and artistry for songs that could only be differentiated by the guitar and violin riffs.
This was only made worse when Woomble finally decided to play something from the new record such as the beautifully serene Remember To Breathe as the complete shift in tone left you feeling like a passenger in a car with someone who’s just hit the emergency breaks while at 80 mph.
Overall it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what Woomble’s intentions were.
If the show was an opportunity to perform and promote his new record, then he may need to rewrite his sales pitch. However if it was just a performance for the sake of his fans, then he may need to find a way of drawing a bigger crowd.
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