Joe Talbot takes a breath. He’s over three-quarters of the way through a jam-packed headline show at the Forum, his band’s biggest headline show to date, and he’s rightfully soaking it all in. For Idles, this is a journey that has started from the soil under their feet into rightfully standing as one of the bands of the year – their unstoppable live presence combined with the sort of post-punk revolution that spits in the face of the world around them and demands for something to change. It’s real, it’s raw, and it’s right; the sort of combination that only comes around once in a while and rises above any notions of album cycles or industry buzz.
In an 18 months that saw ‘Brutalism’ kick down the front door of standard practice, a tour of the globe that only fed the appetite for a band doing things differently and then to follow it all with ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ in no time says it all. For a band that have slogged and pulled simply to survive, there’s a feeling that the moment for them to rise was simply a matter of fate. It’s what makes tonight’s show at the Forum even more special, a crowning of a band everyone wants to see (just ask the touts outside).
Idles stalk on-stage to the mesmeric dings of ‘Colossus’, slowly but surely easing everyone into their dark yet euphoric world with a crescendo that knocks everyone right out of any preconceptions and into the realm of devotion. There are no doubts, no half-measures – Idles treat their biggest headline show like another stop on their road to something else, hungry with ambition and ripping with message. From the NHS to shouting out the people that got them to where they are today, their platform is everyone’s platform, and that sense of community is simply unrivalled. ‘I’m Scum’ lights a fuse that you’d probably hear all the way down the road in the middle of Camden as beers fly. These are the words that people have lived by, and Idles are more than happy to pour every sweat of emotion into every tone.
What’s stunning is how powerful they are, getting better and better as the days and months continue. Joe Talbot is a prowling presence, one part furious preacher and one part welcoming brother – he takes to the Forum as if he’s been playing it all his life. It’s the same for all of them, throwing themselves into the crowd and egging for more as ‘Mother’, ’Dive & Conquer’, ‘Love Song’, ‘Faith In The City’ and ‘Heel/Heal’ fire through with breakneck speed. ‘Danny Nedelko’ may very well be one of the best tracks of the year, and tonight it’s bellowed as if tomorrow everyone will lose the power of voice. All in all, it’s a tidal wave of sound, energy, emotion and rawness that means for every single note, Idles have London in the palm of their hand.
As fans pile on the stage, it’s clear that this isn’t an ordinary show. Idles have caught the pulse of a nation. The frustration and the refusal to accept what’s happening, it’s a band that the UK needs front and centre right now – and that importance is felt tonight. Every moment comes from the gut, an unvarnished portrayal of life in 2018. Yet, for Idles, it’s almost a night to celebrate the journey and ride they’ve found themselves on.
With the soaring heights of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, a runaway piledriver in ‘Well Done’, the loudest spelling bee ever experienced to ‘Great’ and ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ and its jump swings of power – this is a show that will live long in the memory. As the night winds out, a bouquet of flowers makes its way to the front, and Joe collects it with joy. Resistance can be a beautiful thing, and Idles are leading that parade in a manner never thought possible. Hope is here.
Words: Jamie Muir