IDLEWILD - EVERYTHING EVER WRITTEN (EMPTY WORDS)
The first time I ever went crowdsurfing was at an Idlewild gig. Well, technically, it was an Ash gig, but Idlewild were on first.
Actually, let's start this story from the beginning.
I arrived at my friend's house with a 2-litre bottle of Lilt and a litre of cheap vodka, poured half the Lilt away and mixed in the vodka. We were getting a lift to the gig later on with the father of another friend. I hadn't drunk a lot of spirits in my life, but I figured I had a couple of hours to drink some and then gauge how drunk I was. The gig wasn't starting for a while yet. I could always leave the rest behind if I felt like I was in danger of losing control.
"You'd better hurry up with that, we're getting picked up in 15 minutes."
Err on the side of caution, or throw it down? I went for the latter, consuming three quarters of the bottle in 10 minutes, with the idiotic reasoning that I'd have enough time before it fully kicked in to hide any trace of inebriation from my friend's father.
Aside from my own naivety, what I failed to take into account was that I still had to travel for a full 30 minutes in the car in order to get to the venue.
In the car, with nothing but vodka and Lilt sloshing around my young stomach, I suddenly found 'For All the Cows' by Foo Fighters to be the funniest thing I'd ever heard and descended into what, in later life, I would come to refer to as The Mystery Zone. I have no memory of the rest of the journey, except for leaping from the vehicle upon arrival, unceremoniously throwing up in a nearby hedge.
By the time Idlewild took the stage, I was feeling a little better. I'd even had a couple of beers at the venue, which was an entirely unnecessary venture. Bravado ensued, and when they launched into 'Captain,' I seized my chance, tapping the guy in front of me on the shoulder and pointing skywards in the universal gig language of the time.
I didn't weigh very much, so I was propelled a good distance before I even landed. My actions were not received favourably by my new acquaintances in the crowd, most of whom sought to punch me directly in the face. Most succeeded.
The venue security took it even more personally, and the number that gave themselves the task of escorting me off the premises totalled an excessive three. I was told that I'd have to wait outside for five minutes before I returned, but of course I fell over as soon as they loosened their grip, so that time period swiftly changed to 'indefinitely.' I amused myself by telling passers by that their band shirts were shit, before the October cold took effect and I started to feel unwell again. I obviously looked quite appalling, too, because the security guys let me back in just so I could get warm.
A friend of mine arrived to fight my case, which resulted in him being pinned against the wall by his neck and turning to see me already inside with a quizzical look on my face. Ash passed by in a big sludgy mess that I couldn't quite decipher, but man, I loved Idlewild. For their first three albums (including Captain), I had every album and single signed by every member of the band, such was my devotion to their melodic chaos.
But that was 1998 and exactly half my life ago, and it's not like that anymore. Not for me, and certainly not for them. Time has blunted our reckless edge, and we now spend as much time looking back as we do looking forward. That angry, nihilistic streak has made peace with itself and agreed to be channelled into more creative outlets. Nostalgia is a dangerous thing, but it's become part of us nonetheless.
A collection of memories shared. An acknowledgement of the pull of the past. A weary exertion. A rekindling of friendships. A purposeful stride forward, bad knees and all. A refusal to believe that there's no hope in the future. "Do you ever get the feeling that I made important decisions far too late in life?" "In my dreams I am always young." "There's nothing that I can do about it / Even if I could, I'd walk away." That's what Everything Ever Written is, and some of it is ugly. Embarrassing, even. But some of it is magnificent, enveloping warmth, like drinking good whiskey in a happy room, and those are the moments I choose to cling to. I don't miss Captain, Hope is Important or 100 Broken Windows, because those records never left.
You can't become frustrated with what Idlewild have become. You're too far in now. That initial reaction of what the fuck is this shit?! is quickly dispelled by a tasteful arrangement that speaks to the appreciation of folk and jazz that you acquired without putting up much of a fight. So sit down. There's more of yourself in here than you'd care to recognise.