06 March, 2017

[GIG REVIEW] Idles @ Bedford Esquires, Sunday 5th March 2017

“There you go, two songs in and we’ve already played everything you know.” Joe Talbot fronts the Bristol-based five-piece, but isn’t the only thing that holds this band together. Standing in front of an, almost sold out, Bedford Esquires, Idles are a whirlwind of pugnacious behaviour fronted with a barrier of commotion that forms the very essence of a real punk show. 


Photo by @davidtjackson

“We’re playing a 70 minute set tonight, but we usually only do 30 so fuck off whenever you feel like it” Talbot opens with as soon as he walks on to the stage, greeted by an uproar from those who have chosen to spend their Sunday night in an independent venue. Hit single ‘Well Done’ makes an early entrance as the second song of the set, it’s the one everyone knows. It’s the single everybody is most likely to sing along to. And they do. “Even Mary Berry's got a job" the crowds echo back to the stage, perhaps with less aggression. It was a genius move on the band’s behalf, as they finish the song, they reveal their about to play their new record, ‘Brutalism’, in full - and it’s not out until March 10th. By this point, just 10 minutes in, the crowd are ready to be punched in the face with a ball of bone-rattling bass lines and schizophrenic guitar loops that spread themselves amongst the crowd. 

It’s chaos. The stage feels like there’s five different gigs going on at one time, but it doesn’t feel weird. Guitarists, Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan, keep the show moving with an intense performance that adds a sense of anxiety to the show. Not knowing what they’re going to do next, not knowing where they’re going to go next; they have the crowd gripped. As they move through ‘Brutalism’, the show intensifies. Talbot’s glaring stares in to the crowd and immediate crashes in to the cymbal he has by his side is a mechanism for taking the crowd out of the trance-like state that the fellow guitarists and bassist, Adam Devonshire, had the audience in. 

‘Brutalism’ is a career-defining moment for this band. Their punchy bass lines that give the music a depressive state, the guitars that build a force of energy like no other, and the drums that carry everything. Jon Beavis’ performance at the back of the stage is outstanding. Bringing everything together, he keeps the set alive with no where to go but to let the caning rhythm pour out of the speakers, transforming in to deafening sound waves. Playing an extra 40 minutes seemed like a very small challenge. Every second had a story to tell, a song to sell and a performance to unveil. But at no point was there a break to let the audience breathe. This was non-stop in your face, and an unnerving experience for all. 

If their debut album already sounds good, it’s about to sound even better live. Each song belongs on stage, it belongs to the identity of each member of Idles. They, and the music, come alive. In turn, it makes the audience bounce off that. Loud cheers, constant applauds and a stunned audience leave the venue in amazement and with nothing but Idles on their lips. This is a punk band on the verge of something that is going to make the UK really talk.