IDLES at The Leadmill, Sheffield, UK – 26th March 2019

Posted by Bianca on Tuesday Mar 26, 2019 Under Punk, Rock

Review + Photography by John Hayhurst

With Brexit continuing to crash around Parliamentary heads this week, what better way to spend a night than shouting pro-immigration lyrics back at punk band IDLES as their tear up Sheffield on the opening of their biggest UK Tour to date.

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We need punk music more than ever and ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ was one of the best albums of 2018, no wonder this whole tour by IDLES has been sold out for weeks since it was announced back in November. The Bristol five piece have been going from strength to strength over the last 2 years, recognised by anyone seeing their live show as one of the most exciting bands right now.

The attraction is not only the fire and brimstone they bring to the live show, but their political and insightful lyrics that speak about pro-immigration, saving the NHS, dealing with mental illnesses and equality messages all wrapped up in this rag tag collection of people that you really wouldn’t put together as a band and say – “There that’s gonna work!”.

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Singer/Shouter Joe Talbot dressed in trad black jeans and black tour jersey can’t see the setlist as it isn’t the brightest of places here in the Leadmill big room in Sheffield, so frequently he’ll say “Yeah just start it, whatever it is” to the rest of the band. Drummer Jon Beavis hits the kit feverishly as recognition hits Talbot that it’s ‘Well Done’ and quick as a flash he’s into “Why don’t you get a job?, even Tarquin has a job, Mary Berry has a job” The attack on middle class England and Saturday night TV culture done, we are then straight into ‘I’m Scum’ and one of the first ventures towards the audience for guitarist Mark Bowen. He has in the past ended up playing in just his Y-Fronts, so we are grateful for small mercies as he is currently got his trousers on. I’m pinned at one of the sides, occasionally shuffling to the left when the crowd surges, it is packed, hot and sweaty and I’m beginning to doubt my choice of leather jacket whilst Talbot urges the crowd to be safe and not to throw beer at the security.

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‘Great’ is just that, opening lyrics “Blighty wants his country back, 50, screen in his cul-de-sac, Wombic charm of the Union Jack as he cries at the price of a bacon bap” this is punk poetry that John Cooper-Clarke would doff a Mancunian hat to. The chorus is G-R-E-A-T and everyone is screaming it from the lads at the back, to the lady in the wheelchair near the front. This is an all-ages show but there are plenty of 50 somethings here reminiscing over the last time a band had this energy and drive, in the punk and post punk late 70’s this was the norm, nowadays it’s a breath of fresh air and long overdue a come-back.

We are only halfway through the show when they play the trump card of ‘Danny Nedelko’, dedicated to all immigrants to this country and a track they have played on every TV show that would have them. The look on Jools Holland’s face when they played it on his BBC2 programme whilst guitarist Lee Kiernan was climbing all over his piano, is one not to be missed – see the link below!

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More divine pro-Europe movement of people lyrics and a call for “Unity”, perhaps they should be playing it outside the Houses of Parliament to see if it can make a change, lord knows they need all the help they can get. Tonight, Mark Bowen climbs into the audience for the spelling out of “The D, the A, the N….” etc and then later Kiernan decides to crowd surf on his back whilst still playing the guitar, it was like there was some sort of competition. Meanwhile big bald bearded bass player Adam Devonshire is having none of it, keeping sensible court at the back.

Then we have dedications to anyone working in the NHS on ‘Divide and Conquer’, just don’t mention Sleaford Mods, the two bands (- whilst there are similarities in style and they probably share fans) have spent the last few months having an ongoing feud in the press. The odd jibe tonight “I’ve not written any lyrics for that middle bit yet, perhaps I’ll listen to Sleaford Mods’ new record and that might give me some inspiration… haha”. The better audience interaction though came with one member of the crowd called Sunny who frequently called for the track ‘Samaritans’. Having been told more than once, “Yeah we play it every show”, when the time came for it, Talbot introduced it as “This is dedicated to everyone here… except Sunny”.

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Comedy moments interspersed with shouty genius poetry, hardcore driving drums and thrashing guitar. Bowen and Kiernan are making unnatural noises with their guitars using feedback and the odd pedal effect. The brilliantly titled ‘Never Fight a Man with a Perm’ takes us through to finale ‘Rottweiler’ – they don’t do encores unless you count feedback and Mark Bowen singing Summer Holiday whilst laughing and smiling at everyone.

A cathartic experience is shouting insightful poetry in a room with 2000 people sweating and jumping around. IDLES will be huge this year, expect them to take Glastonbury by storm in June and leave a trail of destruction at other festivals too. There has never been a better time than now for this band.

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SETLIST: Heel-Heal / Well Done / I’m Scum / Faith in the City / Great / Danny Nedelko / Divide and Conquer / 1049 Gotho / The Idles Chant / Colossus / Love Song / Date Night / Mother / Television / Samaritans / Never Fight a Man With a Perm / Rottweiler / Summer Holiday

LISTENING: ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ album released 31st August 2018

WATCHING: ‘Danny Nedelko’ Live on Jools Holland in 2018

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