Idles Review: Joy as an Act of Punk Resistance

Chants of “here we, here we…” welcome Idles, post-punk rockers from Bristol, onto the stage at Glasgow’s Queen Margaret Union. The gloomy, bumbling bass and heavy drums of their opening song Colossus hums through the crowd. Instantly, frontman Joe Talbot captivates the audience as he takes to the stage like an angry Freddie Mercury – a stage presence like few others.

The ambience is hellish and exciting; a fog surrounding us, formed from body heat infused with red lights that illuminate the back of the stage. The crowd was compact and moved as one, the ground wet with sweat, spit and beer.  It was easy to lose your footing, but the arms of others were always there to make sure you didn’t fall. With crowd surfer’s aplenty and loud music to make your ears ring hours after, all these things may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is every punk lover’s dream gig.

As well as taking Heavy Lungs on tour, it’s only right that the band play the track which takes inspiration from one of Idles dearest friends and supporting band frontman, ‘Danny Nedelko’.The song, which has over one million plays on Spotify, talks about immigrants and how taking the moral route of unity amongst humans is the way to go. Lyrics that are simple but pack a powerful punch: “he’s made of bones, he’s made of blood, he’s made of flesh, he’s made of love, he’s made of you, he made of me, unity!’. These lyrics mixed with high energy and cranked amps create an atmosphere that energises listeners with feelings of anger towards politics, society and hyper masculinity, yet when sung collectively breed understanding, love and belonging. Throughout the show you see strangers turning to each other to scream lyrics at one another, embrace, high five and grin. A show can be more than just the music, it is a community formed for only a matter of an hour or two.

The band manage to power through a mammoth nineteen song setlist. However, this does not phase the adrenaline fuelled crowd. There is moshing, crowd surfing and some interesting dancing from beginning to end. With guitarist Mark Bowen entering the crowd on multiple occasions for some crowd singalongs.  

The band close their set with a song from from their first album Brutalism, 1049 Gotho, a song for Joe’s daughter about depression and self love, into crowd-pleaser Television and an unexpected cover of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You for a good laugh. Hands are raised as the band says their thank you’s to everyone involved exclaiming this is their last song because “encores just aren’t our thing”. As a formal thank you like any crowd would, we scream, clap, cheer and whistle as they start playing Rottweiler.

Emerging from the venue doors into the light are sweaty bodies, red faces, and smiles. Customary chatting about how good the show was and how dripping in sweat one is amongst groups as we wait in line for the coat check.

Until next time Idles, cheers!


By Sarah Deiss