I’ve seen Idles before and written about them (here) before that. I know how much they excite. In January, I was lucky enough to see them in Groningen at Eurosonic when reviewing for eFestivals. Back then I said:-
“Idles have gone from a band that very few have heard of to a band that everybody wants a piece of in the space of a few months. Those arriving early enough will have seen Joe Talbot, lead singer of these West Country punks, strutting and stomping around the front of the room in a sort of hardcore meditative trance, focussing his energy for the show that would follow. With bleached blonde hair and a furry caterpillar of a moustache, he looks like an unlikely icon but that’s exactly what I reckon he’ll become. Idles are brutal and gobby, opinionated merchants of noise. They’re also one of the most important bands I’ve seen live in the past five years. They explain the beauty of the NHS and swear about its future chances. They apologise for Brexit, embarrassed to be representing those back at home at this most beautifully European of festivals. I see many great bands over the course of my time at Eurosonic but Idles top the tree.”
The moustache is less of a furry caterpillar now but Joe still limbers up pre-gig. He spits into the air and before the gob lands, we’re off. It doesn’t take long for the crowd to catch up and, before we know it, there’s mayhem. In the Bodega’s relatively small space, we stand firm on the right side of the stage as the bulk of the room crumbles in raw raucousness. Such smiles, such incredulous delight. Such joy on the faces of those moshing – hey, we’re all in this together you know…
“This song’s called…” – before Joe can finish his introduction a fan in the crowd tells all what it is. He must have seen them before on this tour. Such dedication wouldn’t surprise. Idles are certainly the sort of live proposition who might attract obsessive, repeat visitors.
Exeter – I’d missed how great a track this was on my far too infrequent listens to their angry and stunning debut album, Brutalism. I make a mental note that this is a song that should have been written thirty years ago when I was growing up just along the South West coast in Dorchester. Nothing ever happens. For sure.
I get another pint in and cross the mosh to get to and from the bar. It parts politely as I return to reduce any spillage. It shouldn’t surprise but I notice a healthy amount of girls in the pit. Was it always thus or were these spaces once much more just for sweaty boys? Whatever, this balance is a good thing. Mother would be proud.
A punter has baked some cakes and they’re given to the band in a brown paper bag. The band appear delighted. Well done – even Mary Berry likes cakes.
“All fucking day I live for this shit. You cunts are magic”, states Joe, heartfelt, sincere, every part of his being in this moment. The set draws to a close. They don’t do that encore thing. It’s been a blast, a ride, a cathartic scream of a gig.
You should see Idles before they implode.