IDLES @ Rock City

IDLES, the most important band in Britain deliver a startling set of anguish and anger to a sold out Nottingham crowd filled with adoration and expectation.

Following on from a huge US tour, Bristol five-piece IDLES turned up to Nottingham’s Rock City for the 26th stage of their 55-date tour. With a sell-out crowd of 2,000, IDLES demonstrated why their unique take on modern life is the sound that Britain needs, highlighting them as perhaps the most important band right now.

Over the past two years IDLES’ success has rocketed to epic proportion. Debut record ‘Brutalism’ established the group as one of the UK’s most exciting prospects, whilst 2018’s follow-up, ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ cemented the Bristolians as the voice of an unhappy nation, touching on Brexit, the NHS, death and toxic masculinity. It’s already being hailed as the ‘Album of the Year’ by many, and reached #2 in the album charts earlier on this year.

Before taking to the stage at Nottingham’s iconic Rock City, it was clear that their show was not going to be an ordinary one. The energy in the room was palpable, as the crowds piled in hours before the show began. People young and old filled the rooms. Families, friends and strangers all squeezed together to welcome the five-piece to the stage before launching into a frenzy as “Colossus”, the opening track to ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ began.

As “Colossus” came to its chaotic finale and “Never Fight a Man With a Perm” began, it was already clear that this was a special night for the Nottingham crowd. The flailing mass of bodies around the venue were a testament to the incredible support and success that the band have received so far, and as “Mother” launched into brutal action, the swarm of people grew in the mosh pit. Singer Joe Talbot offers a moment of respite to remind the crowd of their duty to protect each other before launching into “I’m Scum”. The incredible “Danny Nedelko” follows and is met with yet another roar from the crowd, who are already roasting in the sweat-filled venue. Talbot is a hard man to figure out on stage, confidently walking end to end to address his cult-like following in the crowd.

As the band play their ode to the NHS, “Divide & Conquer”, guitarist Mark Bowen really starts to introduce himself as the band’s biggest entertainer, hauling himself into the crowd who receive him with open arms. Wading along the front rows of the crowd, Bowen’s eccentric stage demeanour intertwines perfectly with Talbot’s snarling vocals. The brilliant “Samaritans”, sees Talbot reminding the crowd that it’s fine to be vulnerable, asking members of the audience to embrace one another.

Great”, the band’s tribute to Brexit, described as “the biggest mistake this country’s ever made,” follows “Television” and it’s at this moment that you realise the sheer quality of IDLES. To have such a collection of adoring fans screaming out every lyric to every song is something you might expect from a US pop star, but not a five-piece band from Bristol who hadn’t released an album before 2017. Yet, this is reality, and this reality sends shivers of excitement down you, because there is a movement forming, and IDLES are leading the way.

Ending the show by rifling through “Exeter”, Solomon Burke cover “Cry To Me”, “Well Done” and “Rottweiler”, the band showed that they were on peak form. A stage invasion, gigantic mosh pits, a stage-diving Mark Bowen and the dancing Joe Talbot provided an apt ending to what was an exceptional show. Talbot previously expressed his desire to perfect the band’s live shows, and this desire shows. There was not a single moment in which you doubted IDLES’ credentials to put on a show. The adoration from the crowd at times felt like you were part of a cult, formed to address societies greatest issues. As the band leave Nottingham to continue their sell-out UK leg of the huge current tour that they’re on, there’s no doubt that a movement is forming, a movement which is only going to expand to greater proportion in the coming months.

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