16th October | SWX
Photos : Andrzej Zajac
You can’t help but marvel at the success of IDLES. Loud, poignant and unapologetic, the Bristolian quintet returned home for yet another sold-out show; SWX had never quite seemed so packed. As the podiums hit full capacity and the rest spilled off of what usually constitutes a dance floor, the turnout affirmed that the growth of IDLES is unstoppable. As friends of the headliners, Heavy Lungs opened the evening with their fanatical, off-kilter energy. The apt unpredictability of the group made for a bold opening.
Bursts of white strobes highlighted the pop-pink backdrop. Restlessness was immediately relinquished. The elongated, thick drones of ‘Colossus’ blared through. Joe Talbot’s demeanour is menacing. As he stalked across the stage, eyeballing the sweat-infused crowd, he demonstrated how he’s perfected how to command authority, as if he’s the new ringleader of punk itself. Although they have mastered what it takes to produce an enthralling show, the outfit’s haphazard anarchy is where the true awe lies. They’re raw. The compelling lyricism contrasted with the unravelling chaos. The passion running through every fibre of the outfit was paramount.
“I’m preaching to the choir in this city,” said Talbot as he stared into the abyss of steam, “let’s fucking celebrate immigrants for once,” as the gang-like chorus of ‘Danny Nedelko’ pumped through. The emotional and thematic potency of IDLES’ catalogue is what has propelled them to acclaim. Live, the compelling snarls were driven by the scuzzy rhythm section of bassist Adam Devonshire and Jon Beavis on drums – an impalpable force to be faced with.
Their ability to rip apart constructed identities enforced on society was unrelenting. It felt integral. It felt important. Whether it was the loathing of toxic masculinity in ‘Samartians’ or the outright mockery of Brexit Britain displayed throughout ‘Great’, the ruthless attack on the state of national affairs, it was met with frenetic applause. A chance to break up the bedlam came from a gritty interlude of Mariah Carey (and why not?). Encouragement of communal hugs were welcomed as ‘Love Song’ was introduced.
Unity is merely one of many contemporary thematic issue IDLES so directly stand for, but, their solidarity couldn’t have become clearer as they orchestrated a stage invasion to enhance the rampant chaos. As ‘Exeter’ slung small town mentality into the IDLES hotpot of hatred, the overwhelming sense of inclusion was elating, as revellers and Bristol’s best critic, Big Jeff, joined in on the antics. Concluding the havoc with ‘Well Done’ and ‘Rottweiler’, those still standing looked as if they were stunned by the all-around cathartic experience.
There’s a heritage of political output from Bristol’s musical exports. What makes IDLES so integral to the industry, in times of social uncertainty, is that they simultaneously embody the national outcry, whilst giving all those who share time with them a sense of hope.