They made the album which shut down toxic masculinity, mindless racists
and your local neighbourhood roiders. Theyre IDLES and now everyone
and their mothers are fighting for tickets to their live shows. 2018s
worldwide album tour shredded through available tickets at breakneck
speed; with their 2019 tour, breakneck just doesnt cut it. As
Im writing this only a spatter of shows out of the near 50 date
tour remain unfilled. So when R*E*P*E*A*T called and asked if I would
like to cover the event, I jumped at the chance. Two buses and a train
later and I was on my way to AF Gang Mecca; that is wherever IDLES
may be Tonight it was Cardiff.
Entering the venue, I noticed an anomaly in my gig going days. As
with many a band IDLES attract people of all ages, these are your
teenage rebels gone 40, the veterans of the mosh pit who now bear
the burden of back pain. Often you find them head banging on the outskirts
or by the bar but no, not here. For IDLES draw the superhuman, the
special few who say 'fuck you' to going down a peg, made pit invincible
by the promise of unrivalled sound and high octane performance, they
were here for a show and they werent going to watch it between
the heads of the fresh faced. Hands firmly grasped around the iron
bars of the barrier, they stayed fixtures of the front as the hall
packed out behind them. No one couldve made them move an inch.
Pic : Dali Mia Poulsom
After a brooding set of growling bass from touring support Crows,
we were ready. Or at least we thought we were. For the second time
that night the music stopped from the speakers and was replaced by
the screams of adoring fans. A tribal rhythm begun. It was Colossus,
the bass began to grumble and gradually the rest of the gang took
their places, contributing to the slow swelling of noise and tension,
frontman, Joe Talbots voice becoming more impassioned with every
lyric sung. They whirled, glided and gyrated across the stage, like
a mad gang of tribal warriors in ritual song. It rises to a crescendo,
every sound thats being emit hitting peak emotion, power, glory.
It drops away. Nothing but a gentle hiss of a cymbal and a few drawn
out snarls from the bass remain. Silence... It lasts forever, electricity
filling a room primed and loaded to explode, we knew what was coming,
we just didnt know when WHATS UP!!.
Talbot Screams and my ribs turn to dust as the crowd launch into a
hurricane of bodies. Chaos extends to the stage: theyre twisting
and swinging in maniacal ecstasy all whilst screaming a wicked cacophony
from mic and guitar. Talbot stares into the crowd his face a fiery
red, veins fit to burst, for someone so terrifying it's impossible
not to stand jaw dropped. The pace was set and it wasnt going
The set was split pretty evenly between tracks from their past two
albums including a reappearance of a personal favourite of mine Stendhal
Syndrome. A reappearance that was only enhanced by Joe trying
to remember the lyrics on the fly, getting no help from the rest of
the gang. When I say whats the next bit? it means I cant
remember the fucking next bit!. I feel you Joe.
Pic : Dali Mia Poulsom
Hes made of you; hes made of me. Unity! Smash
single Danny Nedelko was a clear fans' favourite; if the perfectly
echoed lyrics didnt tell you that, then the masses of hands
in the air with thumbs pressed to index fingers did. Never had I felt
more united with strangers. We were all dancing to the same song and
if a love for that song was the only thing that connected any of us,
then that was enough. AF Gang and proud.
Grab the ticket and take the ride, it seems that IDLES threw us on
a rollercoaster that only got bigger, faster and more exhilarating.
Guitarists were disappearing into the crowd, tethered by amp lead,
Talbot was throwing shapes so out of place it couldnt have been
more fitting. An assault on the senses from all angles - bedlam has
never been done better.
As the show went on I began to wonder how you could possibly close
a show that never dipped below eleven where was there to go
once youd already pushed beyond the limits? It seems like IDLES
have one thing to say about limits and thats fuck em. Shit got
wild. Exeters considerably upbeat intro comes in and the crowd
groove out as they had been all night, a fun time yet still riding
that same flow wed been riding all night.
That changed soon, Lee comes to the barrier, telecaster in hand, two
girls grab it and join him on stage it was a stage invasion
- I think bugger, I wish that was me. But wait, Bowens
in-front of me, Can you play?! Yes I fucking can!
Swoosh and I'm hoisted over the bar, herded to the stage and plonked
with a battle damaged Strat on the IDLES stage with eight other lucky
gig goers. From there you could see everything, O.K hand signs up
in the air, Talbot dancing with fans, Bowen mounting colossal speakers
and screaming into the crowd; It was like being thrust into the centre
of a storm of adrenaline fresh from a daydream. The song ends, security
point to the barrier, I dish a quick thank you and hop round to the
back of the crowd just in time to hear Rottweiler kick into gear.
The room erupts, anyone on the fringes gets sucked into the vortex
of the crowd and cannonballed around the floor. I end up back at the
barrier for a brief reunion before getting sent back to the riptide
of the crowd for another whirl. The last chord rings out and the shows
over. Through a haze of sweat and panting, a final applause is given.
You Tube Screen Grab
I learnt many a thing from IDLES that night. I learnt that Joe Talbot
is a scary dude; to thank God for ribs that withstand a gig barrier;
but most of all I learnt why IDLES are so special as performers. They
understand that performance is the one dimension a meet and greet
or record can never bring, they understand it's about persona and
translating the sound to movement.
Maybe thats why their tours get sold out.
Maybe they're just fucking cool.
Thanks to Rob @ Sonic and James @ Prescription for sorting this