IDLES | The Ritz | Manchester | October 19th
It came as no surprise to see the Ritz bursting at the seams for IDLES’ set on Friday. They are arguably the most exciting band on the British music scene at the moment and the hype and buzz around them was evident in the atmosphere as we waited for them to take the stage. And they are not a band to disappoint their ever-growing audience. From the opening bars of latest single ‘Colossus’ to set closer ‘Rottweiler’ this was a raucous, energetic, and powerful performance which justified every plaudit that has been thrown their way in recent months.
Just in case, for some strange reason, you are unfamiliar with the band, I’ll give you a little summary. They released their second album, Joy As An Act of Resistance, earlier this year. Their debut, Brutalism, came out in 2017 and was met with critical acclaim. Songs across the two albums cover topics ranging from immigration, to social media, via Mary Berry and the best way to scare a Tory. They are writing angry, left-leaning punk music and they are doing it more effectively than anyone else in the last couple of decades.
It was a set so full of highlights that it is hard to pick out the ones worth a mention. But I’ll give it a go. ‘Mother’, the song which tells you to frighten Conservatives by reading and getting rich, was an early stall setter. Later on, we were treated to a cover of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ that almost made one of the worst songs ever written bearable. ‘Television’, one of the strongest songs from the latest album, was another absolute belter. And ‘Well Done’ was the perfect song to open the encore. It is all probably the perfect, and most typical, IDLES track. It’s funny, it’s bizarre, and it’s making a point about modern society in a way that no other band could.
The absolute standout of the whole evening, though, was ‘Danny Nedelko’. An immigration supporting anthem, named after a Ukrainian immigrant who happens to be best friends with the band, this track features one of the most rousing choruses in recent history. Hearing a packed room scream it back at the band while singer Joe Talbot punched his chest and bounded around the stage was an absolute privilege.
IDLES are a band that are made for live performance. As enjoyable as both albums are to listen to, their songs are taken up a couple of notches when played in front of their fans. Their energy is endless, each member of the five piece is completely mesmerising to watch, and they interact with the audience in a way that is totally natural and adds to the experience. Punk isn’t that prevalent in the current scene, but this performance by IDLES was a reminder of what an effective form of music it can be in turbulent times. IDLES are the perfect band for the moment we are living in, and this was pretty much a perfect gig.
by Fran Slater