Live Stream Performances, 29th and 30th August 2020
from Abbey Road

“Long live the open minded, down with the Tory scum”
Joe Talbot, 30.8.20

This felt a bit like an experiment; can a band whose mesmerising and immersive live performances are so much a part of who they are, manage to spread their subversive joy on a live stream from the confines of Abbey Road?

No wonder that during the first performance, Joe feels as if he's “under the microscope” and is “inconsolably nervous”, holding back on the “chit chat” and being unduly harsh on himself.

In fact, he needs to follow his own advice, and love himself.

From the off, the performance is totally powerful, completely heart-wrenching and perfectly emotionally brittle, so beautiful through being simultaneously so fragile.

It's incredible to see, close up, how all their musical pieces mesh together to create the sonic sucker-punch we know; they are indeed more articulate musicians than they give themselves credit for.

Despite appearing, spectacle like, on a flat screen, this event does have the feel of a live gig about about it, including mistakes and false starts and (as the shows progress) interaction with the invisible but virtually ecstatic audience.

Tracks from Ultra Mono sound tantalising, while the old favourites crash and crescendo in the carpeted studio like tethered animals, writhing to get out there and be free.

And the cover versions, performed with massive lyric sheets spread out on the floor? I Wanna Be Sedated was menacingly inspired, and show stopper Helter Skelter (originally recorded in the same venue) burst fresh handfuls of bleeding blisters, just the way it should.

As the sets developed, you could see IDLES growing in confidence into this new (ab)normal gig setting, somehow replicating the crazy kinetic energy that would usually roll in off the audience, and it almost felt like a real gig. The stunned silence after each song, which deserved to be filled with mutual appreciation and love, was the regular reminder that we don't live in usual times.

It's a testament to IDLES intelligence that they were aware of the limitation of the format, and were able to work around it, just as their music is aware of the usual ways commercial music is prettily packaged and neutered, and yet they still manage to resist this. Joyfully.

As the first set ended, guitarist Bowen came back to inspect his instrument which lay in several pieces on the iconic studio floor. He picked it up gently, caressing it as if it had been unavoidably injured in an accident beyond anyone's control.

As in all memorable gigs, it had indeed got slightly out of control. And in doing so (to quote The Beatles again), it had passed its own audition.

Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T

Thanks to James at Prescription PR for sorting this.

See our live photos of IDLES
Cambridge Portland Arms 3.3.17 here
Spillers Cardiff 7.9.18 here
Neumos Seattle 29.5.19 here
Bristol The Downs 21.8.19 here


Fair play to everybody who's trying safely to give us back a bit of what we all love and miss so much, whether this be international acts like IDLES or local venues trying innovative ideas, such as Creature Sound here in Swansea.