Review + photoset / Idles @ SWX

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By Guy Marcham, Music Sub-Editor

'Raucous, sweat inducing and fiercely political', Sub-Editor Guy Marcham reviews Idles @ SWX. Featuring photographs by Music Editor Alexia Kirov.

Transport back in time to 1978 when punk was the forefront of a seismic political revolution in the UK. The scene's anarchic, anti-establishment and DIY roots meant punk stood at the frontline for challenging society's ills.

Acts such as The Clash and The Tom Robinson Band used their full throttle energy and no holds barred ferocity to attack the growth of racism, poverty and unemployment. Now fast-forwarded to 2018, Bristol band Idles seem to be following in the same footsteps and triumphantly so too.

The anticipation leading up to Idles' sold out homecoming show at Bristol's SWX was enormous. The band's latest album, Joy As An Act of Resistance soared to number 5 in the charts and the quintet had just performed a storming set on BBC's Later with Jools Holland. It's safe to say that their subsequent U.K tour feels almost like a victory lap, the crowning of a group now touted as 'Britain's most necessary band', and boy did they prove their worth.

Idles kicked off proceedings with the menacing and brooding 'Colossus' off their latest album. The song's stark intensity and surging rhythm saw circle pits instantly break out, before a whirlwind of bodies were tossed and flung during the track's erupting finale of chaotic abandon and amplified rage.

The tone was set for the evening, as a series of quick fire punk thrashes followed. Particular highlights included 'Mother' and 'I'm Scum', which saw the crowd caped in sweat and screaming along to Talbot's impeccably crafted and wry lyrics, notably the line, from Brutalism's 'Mother',"The best way to scare a Tory / is to read and get rich".

Amongst the anarchic onslaught of pile driver rhythms and gnarly death stares, Idles fail to shy away from flexing their political muscle and unleashing their anger fuelled bite on the social injustices of the modern day world.

Talbot and co. tackle themes such as immigration, toxic masculinity and the EU referendum throughout their songs and live segues. Talbot dedicated the uncaged fury of 'Danny Nedelko' to all the immigrants residing within the UK and the good they do for our wider society.

The song itself burst with a form of untamed energy and saw Heavy Lung's singer and the man himself, Danny Nedelko, jump on stage and dive into the sweaty and jubilant Bristol crowd. Idles also dedicated the roaring thunder of 'Divide and Conquer' to the NHS and nursing, which Talbot declared to be the most noble profession.

That's not to say the band were without a streak of fun antics and pure rock 'n' roll showmanship. Idles may deal with serious hard-hitting themes within their music, but as a live act they embrace their more joyful and largely funny side.

An A Capella version of Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' was thrown into the set amongst the band's usual angst driven disorderly dose of punk rock. The band would also regularly enter the mosh pits themselves and ordered several fans on-stage during the frenzied rush of 'Exeter' (which I was more than happy to partake in).

The band's glorious set was even cut short for a matter of seconds due to the front barrier moving scarily forward during the madness and chaos that goes hand in hand with an Idles show. However, within a matter of seconds, once fans had stepped back and allowed for the barrier to be fixed, the havoc kicked back into gear.

That small anecdote, I believe, is testament to the band themselves. The group represent not just an angry bunch of punks venting their rage towards a microphone, but instead a band using their voice to open up conversations regarding society's ills and fatal injustices - a community in which kindness and respect flourishes and trumps any form of hate and the rock star demeanour of old.


Talbot may have described Bristol as the best city in the world during their set, but going off their SWX show, an argument can certainly be made for Idles being one of the best bands in the world at the moment.

Images: Alexia Kirov/Epigram


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