As someone who had completely missed the phenomenon that is IDLES, this weekend’s Clifton Downs Festival provided the perfect opportunity to watch the Bristol post-punks finish up their scintillating live season to a rapturous home crowd.
IDLES (always stylized in CAPS) certainly aren’t for the faint-hearted, but the sheer raw power and emotions-laid-bare performances have been raved about ever since they owned the Park Stage at Glasto earlier this year. Front man Joe Talbot is a fearsome presence, both on and off-stage, addressing the recent deaths of his mother and baby daughter with a frightening frankness whilst shouting himself hoarse over thrumming bass lines and car-crash guitars.
The album follows on from last year’s debut “Brutalism” as a coping mechanism about finding solace and fighting off the darkness. On that level – and as one of the most hectic shows I can remember – Joy As An Act Of Resistance is an absolute triumph. “June” – the month when Talbot lost his child – is a lament filled with excruciating images (“baby shoes for sale, never worn”), but otherwise Talbot leads the charge through an uproariously uplifting set that rails against Fascism and the current Tory Brexit shit-show.
Crowd favourites “Danny Nedelko”, “Never Fight A Man With A Perm” and “Love Song” do more than enough to counter the darker moments – particularly with guitarist Mark Bowen doing laps in just his Calvins as Talbot smashes up the drum kit in the finale.
What a show. What an album.
Like this? Try these:
Refused The Shape of Punk To Come
Near-perfect post punk blueprint.
Heavy Lungs Blood Brother
Fellow Bristolian post-punks crank up the chaos.
Parquet Courts Wide Awake!
Underrated New Yorkers trawl UK punk underground to magic effect.