Words by AJ Salisbury | Header Image by Kieran Webber
When your good friend messages you and says “you’ve got two weeks to get to the 100 Club in London for IDLES“, you don’t hang about, you book flights, face the wrath of your partner and prepare for one of, if not the best, show of your life. We here at CLUNK are big fans of Bristol’s IDLES (if you couldn’t tell), so when I told the Editor I’d bagged some of the sacred tickets for the 350-capacity Warchild and Brits Week show he said I had to cover it. This is my second time seeing IDLES and their shows are more like holy pilgrimages than gigs. An all-consuming, near spiritual event, which will suck you in, give you the time of your life, and spit you back out to normality a changed person when all is said and done.
Opening the night were the excellent LICE, also from Bristol and signed to Balley Records, IDLES’ Joe Talbot’s label. An art-punk band filled with piss, vinegar and snarly, strutting attitude. Vocalist, Alastair Shuttleworth, channels all the best parts of Johnny Rotten and Mark E. Smith into one entity, stalking the stage spitting lyrics at the crowd with fierce venom. Unfortunately, the venue was still fairly empty for their first-class opening set, but it did mean I was able to get right up to the stage to witness everything first hand. 100 Club have recently been taking the stance to not publish set times to help support their support acts, but are rethinking that strategy now.
Next on the stage were the indomitable and extremely thankful IDLES, Joe Talbot exclaimed how honoured they were to be picked to play the iconic venue during this extremely special series of gigs. One of the most openly socially aware bands in the UK at the moment, they promoted Warchilds cause throughout the show, asking people to donate to help those less fortunate than themselves.
By the time they took to the stage the 100 Club was now at capacity, filled with fans baying for an electric set, which was clearly what they were getting from the very moment they started with opener ‘Heal/Heel’. The crowd were ready for the musical banquet they were about to be served and when the chorus hit, the already eager crowd erupted into a mass of energy and frantic movement, a pace that stayed relentless for the entire set.
You got the feeling the band knew this was a special night for all involved and the show was filled with all the things that make an IDLES live show special. The overwhelming sense of unity and oneness between the band and crowd, the frenzied performances and crowd invasions from guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan, Joe Talbot’s brilliant interlude banter and an audience that is there for the time of their lives, whilst looking out for each other in the process.
Sandwiched tightly in the third row I witnessed flawless performances of nearly every big hitter from their two phenomenal albums. ‘Mother’, ‘Faith in the City’, ‘I’m Scum’, ‘Danny Nedelko’, all fired off in quick succession and sung word-for-word by every audience member in attendance.
This continued for the whole night, absolute electricity and energy filled that iconic venue, old and young alike were sweaty and embracing new friends in the crowd, singing themselves hoarse and eating out of the palm of the bands hand.
Then ‘Exeter’, from debut album ‘Brutalism’, and the usual stage invasion commenced, the already small stage crowded to capacity and belting out “nothing, ever, happens!”
After Joe cleared the stage and with a small comedown during the more subdued Solomon Burke cover ‘Cry to Me’, the calm was quickly replaced with sheer madness when ‘Well Done’ started. Mary Berry may have a degree, but she’ll never have IDLES at the 100 Club on that sweaty Monday night.
Then came the crescendo of ‘Rottweiler’, the closer for tonight as well as on second album ‘Joy As An Act of Resistance’. The crowd hungry for more but physically exhausted from the evening’s proceedings danced their way to the end, then watched in awe as IDLES ended the set with huge amounts of ear-destroying feedback and pedal wizardry accompanied by a huge crowd reception.
For me, this was one of the best gigs I’ve ever attended, possibly the best. A real tour de force of what live music should be. No division between the crowd and the band, a sense of well being and safety coursing through the heaving room. I doubt we’ll ever see IDLES play a venue as small as 100 Club again, which is a shame, but, that night they proved they are THE band you have to see live at least once.
Vote for IDLES to win British breakthrough act here.