LIVE: IDLES @ O2 Ritz | 19.10.18
WORDS BY FREYA MCCANN
Friday 19th of October saw IDLES – dubbed as one of the UK’s most exciting bands – storm the stage at the O2 Ritz in Manchester. After their debut album ‘Brutalism’ put them on the map with Joe Talbot’s honest, vulnerable, yet beautifully strong, empowering lyrics about grief, mental health and politics, it was understandable why their second album ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ was highly anticipated. However, these nerves were soon put to rest and the album debuted at number 5 in the UK charts.
Before IDLES started their performance, there was an air of tense excitement in the room. Heavy Lungs were a fitting opener, especially as the single ‘Danny Nedelko’ takes its name from the frontman. I did however, get the feeling that some of the crowd were waiting in anticipation for the main act and not doing Heavy Lungs justice. After they finished a good performance, the crowd started to socialise with each other. The band preach ‘all is love’ and this was definitely taken on board by fans as the mixed crowd interacted with each other and were honestly the kindest audience at a gig I have ever experienced. Joe came out to greet fans and say hello and had a calming yet warm energy about him as the down to earth frontman was speaking, hugging and taking photos with fans.
As IDLES took the stage, the crowd were fixated on the band (after a deafening welcome) as they began with the opening track of the latest album ‘Colossus’ building the tension then after Joe, almost as a warning to the crowd, yelled “it’s coming” burst into the rest of the song resulting in the mosh pit to end all mosh pits with pints of beer being flung around left right and centre – a continual theme for the rest of evening.
Although the crowd seemed rough there was again, the common sense of unity. Joe, before bursting into ‘Divide and Conquer’, really brought this to light as he was encouraging more women to get involved in the mosh pits and throw themselves around but be safe. Whilst mentioning and thanking the representatives from ‘Safe Gigs for Women’. A sentiment more bands need to carry. This just goes to show that IDLES aren’t being political for ‘the look’, they actually care about what they’re saying and what they’re doing.
However much of an outstanding front-man Joe Talbot is, the band as a whole is what makes them so special. Jon’s drumming is impeccable, especially in ‘Rottweiler’. He may be placed at the back of the stage but the way he plays is certainly at the forefront of the audience’s experience. A real example of the band working together was during ‘Exeter’. Bobo was almost pea-cocking and winding up the crowd to then jump in and crowd-surf along with Lee, as Dev, Jon and Joe held the fort during the madness.
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Another stand out moment from the gig must be, after they made reference to Manchester’s very own Cabbage, singing the first few lines from ‘Terrorist Sympathiser’ when they smacked the crowd with their first single from the second album, ‘Great’. The anthemic anti-Brexit song exploded, with the chorus screamed by fans. A stunning snapshot of what this band is about: unity and love.
This was in all honestly one of the strongest performances I have seen, not just from IDLES but in general, ever. All finished off by the band inviting some of the ‘AF Gang’ (the bands dedicated fan-base) onstage to join them. The band are all beautiful people inside out and don’t mistake their music and angry frontier as something that it’s not. After all, Joe did reiterate “for the last time we’re not a fucking punk band”. This band is the definition of ‘all is love’ and it’s something we should all embrace a little bit more often.