Idles have turned misery and rage into togetherness
Idles come on like a comedy act, winding each other up to cover the fact they aren’t ready to play. On the day that the Bristol band release their debut album, ‘Brutalism’, the chintzy working mens club is packed, but Idles take their time. Nobody minds.
As the Bristol band tune up they give the impression that they’d be just as comfortable down in the crowd, or on the merch stand. There’s a sense of community, as if it could be anybody’s turn to be onstage – tonight it just happens to be them. There’s no posturing here. There’s even less pretence when Idles actually start to play.
They crash through their set, all frantic guitars and half-strangled vocals. ‘Mother’ is already a fan favourite, and a few early stage divers somersault into the audience as the rest of the crowd sing along.
“You know,” says frontman Joe Talbot, “it’s a wonderful feeling to have your songs sung back to you. I know it’s not very cool to say that.”
Idles don’t seem overly concerned about what’s cool or not. They are welcoming, literate, and political, basically everything a punk band should be in the current climate. They haven’t skimped on the passion, either. The requisite anger is there in spades, and the depressive’s lament of ‘1049 Gotho’ and the politically charged ‘Divide and Conquer’ somehow manage to be both joyful and furious. The band dedicate the latter to any doctors and nurses in the audience, but, deciding there probably “aren’t any that listen to us, yet,” they offer the track up to the whole room instead. Idles have turned misery and rage into community.
Latest single ‘Stendahl Syndrome’ is predictably popular, but it’s ‘Well Done’ that is the night’s clear highlight. “Here’s the song you’ve probably heard,” jokes Joe. “But I prefer music’s earlier stuff.”
‘Well Done’ tips the set over the edge into truly frenzied, as people bounce across the top of the crowd like beach balls at a festival. Guitarist Mark Bowen is playing in just his CK pants.
Before he jumps off the stage, Joe raises his chin out to the crowd. “Please, please, be kind to your neighbours,” he says. Behind him the band lock into a cycling riff and rolling percussive rhythm. Idles might be singing about brutalism, but their live show is brimming with humanity.
Idles at MOTH Club, Hackney, London. 10 March 2017.