Gig Review by David Fox / Gig Photography by Wayne Fox

IDLES

Luckily it wasn’t a portent of doom that the evening commenced with the slogan “Anger is an Energy” right before my peepers. Some hours later, Idles had done a striking job of recreating this refrain in aural form, and then some.

IDLES

Coventry Library is the venue, and is an evocative setting for such musical carnage to play out. “Get It Loud in Libraries!!” whisper the posters, and we certainly enjoy more than a slice of Mills and Boon from the vitriol that is dripping from Idles vocalist Joe Talbot’s chops (savage migraine and self-inflicted rope climbing injury notwithstanding). Indeed, you could argue that their well-informed tomes sit perfectly in such a ying-meets-yang environment.

LICE

First up though, the support comes from fellow Bristolian’s LICE, and we find them on jolly fine form thank you very much – complete with frenetically speedy lyrics and suitably hasty songs (and a preference for Gouda, apparently). All in all, the perfect cheese board accompaniment to the main course of roast(ing) Idles (albeit in the wrong munching order).

Idles arrive without fanfare, and launch straight into album opener “Heel/Heal” – its taut, caustic, and fair to say the moshers are “into” it.

LICE

The suitably abrupt ending to cease the rampaging cacophony is signalled with a cut-throat movement by Joe, the first of many mannerisms (gorilla chest beating, punches to the temple) that perfectly symbolise the “rawwwwrrr” element of the music and lyrics combined, and entwines neatly with the frenzied nature of the crowd.

IDLES

Brutalism by name, Brutalism by nature. It goes without saying that the majority of the set borrows heavily from that beast of an album. Personal highlights? “Benzocaine”, with Mark Bowen on lead guitar emitting guttural responses to the repeated exhortation of “supposed to numb…” which leads to a further unrelenting finale. “Exeter” turns all shamanic towards the end, with Joe doing some Mr Mojo Risin’ strutting on stage whilst Mark and Slow Lee Kiernan (rhythm guitar) dance before their guitars in the middle of the floor… all we needed was a match, boy how that place would have burned…

IDLES

There is a plethora of new songs, too – “I’m Scum” sounds like a distant relative of “Date Night”, which ain’t no bad thing. Hearing Joe wonder “where the high street has gone” within strikes a chord in me about the plight of many Midlands towns. Throughout the evening, there are lyrics referencing post-Brexit Britain, depression, the mistreatment of the NHS, immigrants, growing up in “shitholes”… politically savvy, clever… at one stage, Joe declares the importance of libraries. Yep, this is the right platform for them.

IDLES

It needs adding that this is one tight band – the interplay between Joe and Mark (sweet acoustic paeans to one another of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” anyone?), Jon on drums (trance-like on new song “Great”) and Dev on bass (loving the call/ response backing vox on “Heel/Heal”), in addition to Slow Lee… Idles are a massive sum of their parts, and deserve all the praise that is forthcoming.

IDLES

“Rottweiler” closes the set, no encores from Idles as “they ain’t Queen”, and it comes complete with the slightly bizarre request to join Joe in his dutty-wine as one final guitar crescendo overcomes all and sundry. And they are gone.

Remember, Anger is an Energy… it doesn’t always pay to observe the silence of a Library. Buck the trend – be like Idles. Just don’t forget to bring back those overdue books next time, hey kids?

IDLES

IDLES

IDLES

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