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October 30, 2014

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Columnist Spencer Patterson: Idlewild ready to win respect of American crowds

Spencer Patterson covers music for the Sun. His music notes column appears Fridays. Reach him at [email protected] or (702) 259-2309.

In the United Kingdom, fans routinely line up early for a chance to see Scottish rock band Idlewild.

Tonight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the five Scots will be lucky if most concert-goers pay attention to their set or remember their band's name after the show.

Such is the challenge of opening for popular American touring act Pearl Jam, Idlewild singer Roddy Woomble explained in a recent phone interview.

"I's tough being the opener, but it's also quite good because you don't take it for granted that people are going to be jumping up and down straight- away. You need to actually work towards their appreciation, " Woomble said with a thick Scottish accent from the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, Calif., hours before the first of two concerts at the venue.

"There's always going to be people there that don't care about the support band, and I realize that. I mean, I've been guilty of that sometimes in the past, although not very often, because I'm one of those people that quite often prefer the support bands. Because you're discovering something new."

Pearl Jam fans who do arrive early and pay attention will discover a band that has been around since 1995 but is just starting to make major inroads in the states.

Idlewild's fourth album, "The Remote Part," was released to mostly glowing reviews in March. Two of its tracks, "You Held the World in Your Arms" and "American English," have quickly become college radio favorites, and the band upped its profile further with appearances at two major U.S. festivals this year: South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, and the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.

"Our last record, '100 Broken Windows,' became sort of a cult hit in America. College music fans really fell in love with that record, so we had this kind of cult fan base here," Woomble said. "Now we've just been building on that, really. This record is much more accessible for people that aren't necessarily in tune with that kind of music.

"And very slowly but surely, it's starting to creep its way into different kinds of stereos and ears, and hopefully radio stations."

Created by Woomble and three of his art-school mates, Idlewild spent its early years playing punk-oriented rock in small pubs around England and Scotland. Gradually, the band's sound evolved into something more polished, combining elements of pop and indie rock with punk.

For the 26-year-old Woomble, it hearkens back to his mostly American influences.

"Growing up I was primarily interested in Pavement and Sonic Youth, R.E.M. and Nirvana," Woomble said. "It was kind of a reaction to all the sort of Brit-pop that was happening at the time, which I thought was (expletive) rubbish, really."

Woomble said Idlewild wasn't sure what direction it might go on "The Remote Part" when it first re-entered the studio in 2001. But a visit from legendary Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye quickly changed that.

"We met up with Lenny and spent a week with him in the studio in New York that summer, just at the right time," Woomble said. "He basically put us back on track. Although the songs we recorded with Lenny never made it onto the record, he gave us a confidence boost and helped us just sort ourselves out, gave us a little bit of clarity as to what we wanted to do. So we're really indebted to him."

As for Pearl Jam, Woomble said he is grateful to the Seattle quintet for including Idlewild among its support acts. They were, after all, another of the American bands he followed from the other side of the Atlantic as a teenager.

"I got their album, 'Ten,' when I was like 14 years old, so it's kind of crazy now to be actually opening for them," Woomble said. "It took us a couple of nights just to get used to the scale of it, standing in front of 16,000 (to) 20,000 people that don't know your songs and are sitting listening to you.

"But the band themselves are just lovely people, and we're having a good time with them."

Quick hits

A look at a few of the shows scheduled to hit Southern Nevada in the next week:

The Alkaline Trio, a poppy punk band with a serious side, plays the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on Sunday night at 6:30. The Chicago-based band's latest album, "Good Mourning," debuted at No. 20 in the Billboard 200 album chart last month.

One Man Army and theSTART open the show. Tickets are $10.99.

Rapper Jay-Z holds court Sunday night at a club show at Rain in the Desert at the Palms. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native has been one of hip-hop's dominant artists since breaking onto the scene in 1996.

Seven of his albums have reached No. 1, including last year's "The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse," a double-disc set. Tickets are $40 and $75.

Jay-Z will return to town for an arena concert with 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and others -- part of the "Rock the Mic" tour -- July 27 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Soon-to-be space travelers Blur touch down at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on Thursday night at 7. Actually, the veteran Brit-pop band isn't actually going up itself, but a portion of one of its songs -- "Beagle 2" -- will reportedly be played on Mars when the British spacecraft of the same name arrives on the red planet six months from now.

Blur's latest album, last month's "Think Tank," has been hailed as a return to form for the band, which recently lost guitarist and founding member Graham Coxon when he quit the group. Tickets are $25 and $35.

On sale

The Eagles' "Farewell I" tour lands at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 7. Tickets are $75, $275 and $250, and go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. at the MGM box office, at TicketMaster outlets, by phone at 474-4000 or online at mgmgrand.com or ticketmaster.com.

Jackson Browne, Steve Earle & the Dukes and Keb' Mo' share a bill July 27 at Aladdin's Theatre for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35, $35 and $60 and go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Aladdin box office or through TicketMaster.

ZZ Top brings its beards and blues to the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Aug. 20. Tickets are $35, $45 and $65 and go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Mandalay Bay box office or through TicketMaster.

Philadelphia rappers the Roots perform Aug. 3 at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. Tickets are $20, $30 and $40 and go on sale tonight at 5 at the House of Blues box office, by phone at 632-7600, online at hob.com or through TicketMaster.

Tickets for four other additions to the House of Blues calendar are available now: an acoustic show by the Wallflowers on July 12 ($22, $35, $40), Alien Ant Farm on July 5 ($12), Thrice on July 14 ($11.50) and the Dark Star Orchestra on July 26 ($20).

Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Chuck Berry will team up for KQOL 93.1-FM's "Red, White & KOOL" oldies concert July 5 at The Orleans Arena.

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