Margins Festival part 1 – Lovely Folk: Roddy Woomble, Withered Hand and Alasdair Roberts

with h giitv

For their “Lovely Folk” evening, Glasgow’s Margins Festival had assembled a stellar line up from the Scottish indie-folk scence.

Popping up most recently on the critically acclaimed Thirteen Lost and Found album from guitar virtuoso RM Hubbert, folk-troubadour Alasdair Roberts was an inspired choice to open proceedings. His stripped back sound and tales of love and loss set a warm tone for what’s fast turning into one of the festivals to be at North of the Border.

Lit – just -by a few well placed standard lamps and surrounded by armchairs and bookshelves, Roberts seemed right at home as he held the crowd spellbound with songs from his forthcoming release, Urstan.


Dan Willson, aka Withered Hand is fed up of being labelled self-deprecating so tonight he’s going for a full-on, heads-down, no-nonsense boogie style approach, a la Status Quo. Or perhaps not. Having apologised for the self-deprecation, Dan apologises for apologising then says sorry for swearing. Rock stardom clearly wouldn’t sit comfortably with the Edinburgh based Fence-collective member. No matter. Intimate is what he does and on this evidence there are few who could do it better. Lyrically Withered Hand is by turns thought provoking, wistful, sad and laugh out loud funny. Sometimes all in the same song. Crowd favourite Religious Songs from his 2009 release Good News begs singalong parts from the Friday night devotees, “If there’s manna from heaven then you’re disinclined to share; You stole my heart but I stole your underwear.”

Current Fence vinyl release “Heart Heart” is requested by one enthusiastic audience member who seems unabashed when Willson tells him there’s no way he can play that on his own “unless you can sing like a keyboard, man.” Given the love in the room for this Daniel Johnston-esque figure, it’s just possible the guy might have felt inclined to give it a go.

roddy giitv

With his power-rock combo Idlewild on hiatus for the time being, Roddy Woomble can concentrate on his inner folky. As anyone who’s heard either of his solo albums or the collaboration with Kris Drever and John McCusker will attest, this is undoubtedly a good thing. Whilst later Idlewild albums often displayed their acoustic DNA, notably on songs like El Capitan and The Remote Part, it’s really in his solo outings that Roddy has been able to fully embrace the power of the storytelling song.

In this intimate setting – the red brick subterranea of Glasgow Central Station’s railway arches – accompanied by an immensely talented trio (including a double bass, brilliant fiddle and Mull’s Sorren MacLean on guitar), the songs with their tales of wandering the hills and pitching and rolling at sea come to life as if hearing them for the first time by a roaring fire with a bottle of malt. That sounds like a good place to be and if you fancied inviting friends over for a wee ceilidh then Roll Along and a cover of Michael Marra’s Neil Gow’s Apprentice would set the toes tapping and the heads nodding.

Having won plaudits from the folk establishment (is there such a body?) for both solo releases and the Drever, McCusker, Woomble project it’s clear Roddy is firmly established as a singer in his own right outwith the Idlewild setup. The band still found time to slip in a stripped back cover of Idlewild’s  “You Held The World In Your Arms” – appropriate for a man with the musical world at his feet.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.