Words: Kieran Clark | Header Image: Kieran Webber *
I’ve been waiting since December 2018. There’s not many acts in the world, that have ever existed, that I would travel a round trip of twenty nine and a half hours for. IDLES aren’t like most other acts though, well not for me. Messrs Beavis, Bowen, Devonshire, Kiernan, and Talbot, decent on Dublin for their largest headline show yet at the beautiful Iveagh Gardens. Irish band, The Claque, opened proceedings with their noise rock, featuring the talent of Girl Band’s Alan Duggun. Their sound is hard to dissect, due to the both chilled, yet heavy nature of the music they have conjured, expect a lot from this band in the coming years. Following them, were Australian band Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever. RBCF came out with such a cool vibe, commanding the stage, but being fully aware that they were not the main act of the night. Trading guitar lines, whilst drums, acoustic, and bass held the ship rock steady, RBCF pumped the crowd up for the main event.
“We’re going to play one more song, then come out there to enjoy Idles with you guys!”
Enter IDLES, starting with there now familiar opening song ‘Colossus’, slowed down for emphasis from the recorded version, the crowd went wild immediately. It didn’t take long for Kiernan and Bowen to descend into the crowd, and circle pits to open up, and madness to ensue. This madness wouldn’t stop until the band left the stage. ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’, ’Mother’, and ‘Faith in the City’ followed, the energy high, on and off stage. Talbot stood, almost like a preacher to his followers, giving the story behind each song, whilst the two guitarists would enter the crowd if they thought it was calming down too much. I’ve never seen a band manage to keep an audience this captivated and so frantically moving in my life. ‘Danny Nedelko’ begins, dedicated to the immigrants of Ireland and the world, the anthem that is bellowed back at IDLES as loud as they give it. I did wonder afterward how the Heavy Lungs singer would feel knowing 4000 people were screaming his name as loud as they possibly could. Old favourites such as ‘Queens’ and ‘1049 Gotho’ were sprinkled into the set, followed by the IDLES’ NHS anthem, ‘Divide and Conquer’. During ‘Love Song’, Bowen, donning a comical “Paddidas” t-shirt, and Talbot paid homage to Irish band The Cranberries with their rendition of ‘Linger’, and also ‘Living On A Prayer’.
If you watched IDLES at Glastonbury, you’ll understand that even though they’re a heavy band, full of passion and noise, they can bring a tear to your eye. Lee Kiernan’s passion during ‘Benzocaine’ was enough to start me off. ‘Benzocaine’ is a song about addiction, and the passion Kiernan exhibited was so powerful, something more than just a performance, but what looked like a release for a man who has been so open about his previous addiction. ‘Samaritans’ followed, a song about toxic masculinity, named after the mental health charity, and dedicated to everyone to be who they want to be. On the eve of Frightened Rabbits first release since the death of Scott Hutchison, a celebration of his life, there was something beautiful about Joe Talbot singing ‘Samaritans’ with Hutchison’s now iconic cross tattooed on his arm. As the band began ‘Television’, Talbot again broke our hearts, but showed the strength in his character. Cutting the song as it was getting into the swing of things, Talbot quietens the audience, and tells us that it was two years to the day since he buried his daughter, who tragically was stillborn, dedicating the performance to her memory, and defending the rights of those in a similar situation, that they still have the right to be called a parent.
Finishing the night with ‘Exeter’ and ‘Rottweiler’, they then invited two audience members on the stage to close the night with an encore of an Irish song of their choice. IDLES stood in awe of a crowd of 4000 singing ‘Óró sé do bheatha abhaile’, also known as ‘The Irish Rebel Song’, at them, before leaving the stage.
If you have not yet had the chance to experience IDLES in the flesh, I implore you to go as soon as you can. They’re on the rise, and are exciting live from start to finish. The crowd like to mosh, crowd surf, fly about, and belt out every word, and yet there is a positive atmosphere, one of unity. IDLES stage presence is outstanding, their performance, flawless, and will be stuck in the memory for a long time. ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’, you understand what it means in shows like this.
*Header image is from IDLES in Plymouth 2017