Belfast
21 Sep, Saturday
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Review: IDLES – Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

Critically-acclaimed Bristol based punk band Idles have landed in Dublin with their crushingly strong political and social commentary. They are here in amidst a string of festival dates, they’ve got support from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Dublin’s own The Claque.

Starting the night off, The Claque delivered a good set of soothing mantra-like vocals, drums and bass that were cut by dissonant and abrasive electric guitar. The band were odd, but suited the festival atmosphere in a dark and gritty way, with a sound like a car crash on a sunny day.

Next up were driving indie reverb-rockers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. At this point the sun was sadly starting to go, but it was kept in spirit through the band’s music. The group sported three guitarists: acoustic, electric, and weird. The mixing here was great and every instrument could be picked up, fantastic for the variety of effects on show. While the three guitarists took the limelight — especially as each one sang lead in multiple songs — the drums and bass were exceptionally tight and had a hypnotic groove going on.

There was a good dense crowd in anticipation of the main act, and sure enough Idles took the stage to much adoration. Starting things off slow, guttural buzzing guitars of Colossus lasted an age until Talbot and the crowd began to sing. The track escalated in anxiety and tension while the crowd waited in anticipation. Sure enough, the break came and again an age passed.

Then it kicked off.

Absolutely mental. The horde in the stalls thrashed wildly. Drinks flew out of hands — pushed, torn, or thrown. Between the social meat tenderizer and lashings of liquor, the terrified faces of people who clearly weren’t prepared shone like beacons in search of help. But the horde was merciful and guided the lost souls out of the pits.

That was the playbook set for the night. From start to finish, Idles were relentless and the crowd was chaos; but a vigilant, friendly chaos that was always ready to help with people who toppled and fell or lost a rare shoe or wallet.

Early on was a string of hard-hitting tracks with anti-fascist anthem Never Fight A Man With A Perm and Tory trasher Mother, shortly followed by a fantastic sing-a-long in Danny Nedelko.

A great interlude took place in Love Song as Talbot growled “Did you have to let it linger?”, followed by Mark Bowen yelling “What more in the name of love!”, and finally “It’s been seven hours and fifteen days, since you took your love away!”. It was a fun tribute to great Irish love songs, and a standout moment of the night.

While it was ever so slightly disappointing that Heel/ Heal didn’t start with the classic “No surrender” screech on this hot cramped 11th of July night, there was a delicious comparison to be made as Talbot yelled “Marching to the beat of someone’s drum!”.

One of my favourite moments of the night was during Samaritans. While most songs garnered singing, moshing, or both, the mantras here garnered so much frustration which peaked when the crowd raised their hands and belted “The mask of masculinity, is a mask, a mask that’s wearing me!”. It was a beautiful moment and really indicative of the sense of love and community the band inspires.

It was followed by a very tender and emotional statement as Talbot explained that two years ago he buried his daughter Agatha, and dedicated the next song to her — the beautiful and free Television.

They ended the gig with unstoppable force as they launched through Rottweiler, a song that delivered the most crushing pit I have ever seen. Even when the crowd wasn’t beating itself senseless, the motion carried me helpless and wonderful in fantastic unison. It was an amazing end.

There was some odd omissions from the setlist though. New-ish track Mercedes Marxist wasn’t to be seen, and neither was Brutalism banger Well Done — but the track I missed the most was the pure-blooded English anthem Great, a song I was definitely hoping for given it being the verge of the 12th.

That said, even though the gig was over, Idles took their leave, and the leaving playlist and lights came on; the crowd chanted for one more tune. And it worked, sort of. Talbot came on stage and invited someone from the crowd up to sing a song that we’d all know — to play us out. So the leaving playlist stopped, and the girl on stage proclaimed we shall sing the absolute belter “Óró Sé Do Bheatha Bhaile”. The last thing I’d have expected at an Idles gig was to be singing an old folk song with 4,000 people as the band stood to the side smiling. It was the perfect Irish cap to a night filled with so much fun, energy, and harmony courtesy of the most relevant band in punk music right now.

Music man from Belfast. Playing instruments like an amateur and loving movies and games. Currently listening to: Radiohead/ Ghost/ Thee Oh Sees