“You don’t love me. You love the idea of me, which was created by you, so thank you…”, profanes Joe Talbot midway through IDLES sell-out show at O2 Academy. From first creating music deemed “f***ing terrible” by the singer, to reigning havoc at Ally Pally a few days ago, the Bristolian punks have come a long way in a short amount of time, though their mindset has never faltered. This band speaks for the people to such an extent that it makes them, quite possibly, the most important addition to music this decade.
There is no better way to kick off a night of anarchy than the slow build-up and eventual explosion of ‘Colossus’, which begins with drummer Jon Beavis tapping his sticks on the shell of his bass drum as the already-iconic front-man in the shape of Joe Talbot stomps on stage. Everyone was soon reminded exactly who they’d paid to see, as guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan powered into heavy rhythmic guitar, forcing the centre-crowd to begin bouncing.
Everything about IDLES screams rebellion, be it the anti-establishment rhetoric of their albums or the complete countertype persona of each band member to the traditional punk-rock genre. Take Dev, the bassist, for example. The skinhead with a massive beard who yells backing vocals was formerly a schoolteacher. While Bobo, Talbot’s Commander General whom he sends forth into the crowd wearing nothing but his pants, is a dentist, for God’s sake. Talbot epitomises IDLES’ ethos. He uses his platform to offend the offenders in society, lyrically fighting for prosperity, not austerity, for all. You either love them or you hate them. And if you hate them, you’re probably a Tory, evident in IDLES’ monstrous rendition of ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’, in which the lead singer bellows: “A heathen, from Eton”, unsubtly referring to our current Prime Minister, and anyone that fits his mould.
“What happened next, then, will undoubtedly remain the best experience of my life…”
As Beavis became more inspired on the drums, IDLES only gave the crowd momentary respite from ground-shaking anthems like ‘Mother’ and ‘Divide and Conquer’ when Joe had another important message to deliver. Admittedly, I was late to the IDLES craze, but I soon realized that they were the type of band capable of taking over your life, as you find yourself listening to unreleased material from 8 years ago in the deepest corners of SoundCloud. So, by the time of this gig, I was undeniably a big fan. What happened next, then, will undoubtedly remain the best experience of my life. Amid the chants of “Yorkshire… Yorkshire”, Talbot heard my solitary shouting of “Bristol!” and, as I jumped on some bloke’s shoulders, he smirked and invited me on stage. The next 3 minutes went by in a heartbeat as I found myself hugging Joe, dripping in sweat and shirtless, in front of a sea of grinning fans. I quickly shook hands with Beavis, a drumming icon of mine, and flung myself into the crowd, as requested by the IDLES frontman: “This is Ellis, and you’re gonna keep him up!”. I was then tossed about like a beach ball, still managing to punch my fist in the air in unison with the rest of the crowd during an electric recital of ‘Benzocaine’. Finally, IDLES bowed out with an incredible, inaudible version of ‘Rottweiler’ as Metz, the support band, joined them on stage and Beavis had four different people playing his drums.
IDLES are a new wave of punk, typically unafraid to piss people off, but caring enough to know where they would be without their fans. They fight the people’s corner so much that some even call them communist. But if IDLES are what communism sounds like, then Vive le Marx.