Roddy Woomble’s gig at the Acoustic Music Centre fell slightly flat. Both he and his three-strong band were seated for the duration, unfurling a series of pleasant songs for the sizeable audience. His musicians played excellently and he sang well enough, but despite the number of people, Woomble made little effort to engage with us.
Seonaid Aitken played violin and piano, Sorren Maclean guitar and Gavin Fox bass. All three sang backing harmonies, while Woomble had no instrument but his voice.This wouldn’t have been a problem, but he often appeared uncomfortable when he wasn’t singing. In the extensive instrumental sections he habitually turned towards his band rather than the audience; for much of the show we were looking at him side-on which felt wrong for a headline gig. Whether he liked it or not, he was in the limelight, but for much of the time he failed to do anything with it.
Aitken was outstanding: her violin solos lifted several of the jauntier pieces, while Maclean had his share of speedy guitar runs. In the slower, typically euphonic songs there was usually a lull as attention shifted to Roddy’s voice. It was always in tune but sometimes a nasal tone, unnoticeable in the louder songs, crept onto the scene to muddy the words. It says a lot about the gig that the focus was often on Woomble’s extremely talented musicians: it was a shame that he didn’t also have an instrument with which to impress the crowd.
His banter was understated: much of it was self-deprecating, anticlimactic information about the songs and places the band had been, ending in phrases like ‘and that’s all I’ve got to tell you about that.’ This was an endearing if pedestrian style and often made us laugh. At one point the guitarist had to retune; ‘Just let us know if the show’s too slick for you’, he quipped.
This likeable musician never really knocked the audience’s socks off, but his band did its best to, particularly in the hoedown of the final song, ‘Old Town’, spiced up with sharp yowls and flecks of the blues. More of this kind of musical personality on Woomble’s part will ensure future gigs are similarly engaging throughout.