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Review: IDLES @ Marble Factory

One of Bristol's native greats has returned, bearing their newest album and a bundle of love that was readily shared with the crowd

By Benji ChapmanCo-Deputy Music Editor

"A room full of people have carried us here", said Joe Talbot as he stood atop the Marble Factory's stage. Sharing that he had a panic attack only 40 minutes before the show's start was met with a feeling of compassionate reverence as Joe thanked the crowd for receiving the band so well: "thank you for making me feel magic."

On the 16th of February I had my hangover broken by the new IDLES record. As I groggily crawled out of bed to make a cup of tea I put my headphones on and listened to TANGK, pronounced "with the whiff of a 'g'". I was first struck by the album art's, explosive cover and chubby white writing which gave me a sense that the band were moving in a different direction from CRAWLER's introspective themes, rather detonating outwards with kinetic ferocity.

Certainly, the band are moving in a new direction but the constancy in IDLES' creative direction is their relentless positivity which extends beyond their sound and lyrics into their core philosophy and wider community.

IDLES @ Marble Factory | Benji Chapman

Moreso than any other record the band have released, I would argue, the band's benevolence is shining through. In their sound, imagery and particularly on-stage IDLES are a beacon of unwavering, accepting happiness that present with a relentless positivity. The new record reflects this with a cheekiness that keeps listeners light on their feet.

When I was thinking of coming to Bristol for university, IDLES was one of the names that got thrown about in the mix a lot. Upon arriving in Bristol I gathered a preconception of the city as one connected to the band, with its forward thinking gusto and radical passion for the arts. Only in my second year have I realised why the band is so connected to the city.

Amid a sweaty mosh pit, arms were held out as people helped each other up, conversing and cheering when the time came to show support. The outstretched hand of a stranger could not be a more appropriate symbol for a band that brings an unfaltering positivity in their refusal to be made separate from their audience.

IDLES @ Marble Factory | Susie Long

Thankfully, the band would be celebrating the new record's release with older classics as well as new songs. Staples of a classic IDLES performance featured, like a voyage into the crowd from guitarist Lee Kiernan, trailing his guitar's lead behind him as he went. The setlist was paired equally with old and new songs, but the new, TANGK tracks were nonetheless the standout aspect of the night. Dancer was introduced with an insightful exclamation from Joe: "in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, shut the f*ck up and have a dance will ya."

TANGKs' focus on the theme of love was made abundantly clear throughout the performance. Not only were the band positively enthused on-stage, but Joe's insights continued as he addressed his newborn daughter in the crowd - pointing to her gently and asking the crowd to "teach my daughter how to be loving."

The moment marked a significant point of reference for IDLES' softer tendencies that underlie their aggressive sound. It wouldn't be without people like Joe that we have managed to move towards an increased acceptance surrounding mental health issues and rehabilitation, both in Bristol and further: all movements built on love.

IDLES @ Marble Factory | Benji Chapman

The topic of the Israel-Palestine conflict was also marked as an instance of IDLES' continued concern and commentary surrounding the future of the progressive movement, as guitarist Mark Bowen shouted persistently for a ceasefire to the mutual agreement of the crowd.

Though we may live in times that are often daunting in their unpredictability, IDLES' music celebrates a perseverance of the human spirit through a recognition of people like the unsung "brave and beautiful immigrants that made this country with its hideous colonial past a better, brighter place."

IDLES are evidently as humble and loving as they were when they were when they found their footing as a group in Bristol. They are a group whose charm and positivity radiate directly from their work, so don't worry if you don't love the band, they already love you more.

Featured Image: Benji Chapman

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