The accepted trajectory of momentum in modern music can be an almighty fucker. But it’s no indelible law. There are, after all, those artists who somehow manage to ride the killer wave without buckling at the knees, being swiftly consigned to the industry seabed and bid adieu with a muffled chorus of, “See? Told you they weren’t all that.” In the case of the irrepressible Idles, it seems that no amount of five-star reviews or bandwidth-shagging kudos can derail their focus from what they already have: killer songs brimming with pit-starting transmissions of self-love and tolerance, and an ever-growing fanbase whose wide-eyed love of their music outshines the tut and tsk of even the most confounded naysayer.
Sure enough, the band’s sold-out show at Dublin’s Button Factory last night underscored this fact tenfold. It wasn’t just another set on a globe-spanning tour to mark the release of the band’s new album, Joy as an Act of Resistance: it was the latest in the band’s string of incendiary happenings, each (if recent reports are to believed, and my own memory of a show in California last week holds weight) serving up something uniquely remarkable. From the portentous opening drub of ‘Colossus’ right through to the circle-pit-inducing ‘Rottweiler’, frontman Joe Talbot and co. served up sound and fury, warmth and pure kinesis, the likes of which few modern punk bands have any chance of outdoing.
While the likes of ‘I’m Scum’, ‘Danny Nedelko’ and ‘Faith in the City’ made for blitzing singalongs, ‘Divide and Conquer’ (dedicated to the band’s guitarist, Mark Bowen, a dentist in his life beyond the band), the trouncing ‘Exeter’ and ‘Heel/Heal’ – in which Talbot announces, “I hope there’s women in the pit!” – emerged as highlights in a set that became as much as about the ceaseless stage-diving/invading, watermelon-headbutting (you had to be there) and fist-clenched decrees as it is the music. Throw in a Mariah Carey cover and a pit that doesn’t let up for 20 songs and you have one of the live shows of the year. Yes, the accepted trajectory of momentum in modern music can be an almighty fucker, but in the case of Idles, it’s a delight to watch them shirk it by lapping up every single moment, being grateful and making it as much about the fans as they do the message. Brian Coney
Photos by Alan Maguire