I first became aware of Idles through their 2017 debut ‘Brutalism’, a title that pretty accurately portrays the nature of the album. Fast, loud and razor-sharp songs that, strangely, get locked into your head the instant you listen to them. I, unfortunately, missed the subsequent tour for this album and was ready to wait for the opportunity to see them live again. Luckily, the wait wasn’t too long. Earlier this year Idles announced their second album ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ and along with it a tour date at the Birmingham O2 Institute. I immediately got myself a pre-order of the album and a ticket for the show. When ‘Joy’ was finally released, I was blown away. It all just made me that more excited for the 26th of October.
The day finally arrives, and I’m standing towards the front of the venue when the band kick off with the mighty ‘Colossus’. The thunderous sound of bass drills into the crowd, frontman Joe Talbot starts to lead a chant of the opening lines with the audience. The guitarists all join, slowly building up the song more and more, each strum of the bass filling the venue with more anticipation until in a brief moment, the guitars cut. The song quickly returns with vicious new energy and the entire standing area turns into sprawling mess of moshing that doesn’t lose energy during the whole show. The band themselves are consistently playing at their best. Every song is an elevated version of what can be heard on the album. It all works to create a strong rebellious atmosphere that never once leaves the venue.
They blast through their 18-song set with barely any time to breath inbetween. Each song has the crowd leaping around, screaming out the politically charged lyrics that make Idles so great. Their songs are filled with incredible lines poking fun at the state of things. ‘Mother’ repeats the line “the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich,’ Danny Nadelko is a love song towards immigrants in the UK, with a feature on stage from Danny himself. ‘Love Song’ acts as a satirical take on the need for constant romantic reassurance. Before playing ‘Glam Rock,’ Talbert states “This country is run by Psychopaths, this song is about two of them doing cocaine at a funeral.” The great thing about all of this is that each of these lines is screamed back at Talbot from the audience. It was a place to let go of the anxieties and fears that come with simply being alive in our modern age.
Idles don’t stray away from a good bit of fun with the audience either. During ‘Exeter’, Talbert invites the crowd to jump the barrier and join him on stage for an ironic sing and dance. The guitarist gives their guitars away to 2 random members on the audience and takes turns diving into the audience, as Talbert sings and dances with the 20+ audience members now on stage. The rest of the audience continues to bounce around like lunatics, and I’m as happy as can be. Exeter is one of their last songs, and I’m tired from moshing, signing and smiling. I’ve never been to a gig where I’m constantly screaming and moshing, but I’m not having a cathartic release of anger like usually do at these kinds of gigs. I’m happy, and it’s amazing. The great thing about Idles is that their music is not only brutal, but its endlessly joyful, their live show takes this to the extreme with a show that left me bruised and drenched in sweat and with the biggest grin on my face.
Idles will be returning to touring in March/April 2019. Unfortunately, they won’t be returning to Birmingham but do have plenty of other shows across the country. Don’t miss the opportunity to what is probably the best band in the UK right now.