- 03 Apr 19
Idles are a band that can do no wrong. In an era of Brexit, Trump and Dancing With The Stars their cacophonic anti-establishment diatribes are an oasis in an amoral cultural wasteland. And so it was impressive to see the comparably rambunctious Crows win over a loyal and impatient Vicar Street mob with a cluster of tracks from latest album Silver Tongues. Shards of distortion over hypnotic bass coalesce in a Joy Divisionesque stew - do familiarise yourself post haste.
The stage remains in darkness with minimal lighting as Idles blast through openers ‘Colossus' and 'I’m Scum' as the exultant crowd mosh and dance joyously. Joe Talbot then introduces ‘a song about the upper classes looking down on us’ - ‘Well Done’ - and ‘one about how I love immigrants’ - ‘Danny Nedelko’. An astute social conscience is at the heart of his lyrics boldly delivered in a raw impassioned plea.
Sonically Idles defy categorisation, a point Talbot himself makes at one juncture, though the careening guitar lines, pummelling bass and frenetic drums bring to mind, punk, post-punk, metal, industrial and hardcore at various stages. Tonight has the feeling of a religious service with Pastor Joe preaching the righteous word. He thanks us for making them feel ‘safe and welcome’ and acknowledging ‘the power of being part of something bigger than yourself’ while encouraging ‘kindness’ and ‘being nice to each other’.
During the lull in ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ he goes all Moses splitting the crowd and asking them to embrace when the guitar line kicks back in - he is obeyed, of course. At several intervals guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kieran enter the adoring masses, the line between the performers and audience is intentionally blurred regularly. In another egalitarian move Talbot acknowledges the debt to the onlookers saying ‘we’re your clowns and we’re privileged to be here’.
He rails against sexism (‘Mother’), drugs and isolation (‘Benzocaine’) and toxic masculinity (‘Samaritans’). All too soon Solomon Burke cover ‘Cry To Me’ leads to the magnificent ‘Television’ with its powerful refrain ‘If someone talked to you / The way you do to you / I'd put their teeth through /Love yourself’ before the omnipotent ‘Rottwelier’ sends us on our way. Intent on making a change - for the better.