27th March | Tramshed, Cardiff
Photo: Marcello Ambriz
If there’s any time in history we need an explosion of righteous anger it has to be now, surely: our politics in total disarray, venal self-serving politicians lying and backstabbing with abandon, an utter dog’s Brexit wherever you look. So thank fuck for IDLES then, an exhilarating assault on the senses, a glorious kicking against the sticks.
With an unrelenting drum-and-guitar-powered rhythm to each of their numbers, this lot, formed ten years ago, deliver a withering, caustic, and cuttingly humorous social commentary on modern life, that brings to mind the kind of attack the Sleaford Mods excel in, albeit with an exhilaratingly more ferocious tempo.
They’ve recorded two blisteringly urgent albums in the past two years, 2017’s Brutalism, and last year’s Joy As An Act Of Resistance, earning sold-out shows everywhere, including two salivatingly-acclaimed Bristol gigs in the Autumn. They have had chart success and infiltrated the nation’s conscience through a wild BBC appearance on Later With Jools Holland.
They’ve been described as the new punk, although that label was slammed by their singer Joe Talbot, who declared pointedly at a Manchester concert last year, “For the last time, we’re not a fucking punk band.” That engine-like drive in their music, their energy and their politics are unmistakably influenced from that era though, and tempered and twisted and sewn through with enough clever hooks, lines and sinkers, scenarios, truths and coruscating dramas to match with some of the best of then and beyond.
While Brutalism was sound of IDLES squaring up against the world, Joy sees the same urgent frenzy and ruffianly-intelligent lyrics used as a defiantly positive call-to-arms. There is personal pain amongst the lyrics, Talbot’s loss of his mother in the first album (the track ‘Mother’ alludes to this, as does the album’s cover) and the death of a daughter at birth (‘June’ on the second album). Personal politics mesh with the general disgust at widespread hypocrisy, double standards and attitudes. There’s an honesty about them that makes them so powerful and easy to identify with.
Live, they’re an experience that is forceful and ultimately necessary. Cardiff – get ready for them again. Feel the noise. Hear the words. Embrace the revolution!
See the video for ‘GREAT’ here: