IDLES – The Ritz, Manchester: The view from Far Out
Far Out headed back to the iconic surroundings of The Ritz in Manchester to catch one of the bands of the moment in the shape of Bristol five-piece IDLES – the sonic juggernaut who are currently on the road in support of their second LP Joy as an Act of Resistance.
Despite still noticing a snaking queue behind us as we enter the venue, it already seems packed to the rafters once we get inside – a factor that inevitably makes for a sweaty affair when the band come on stage.
Those who’ve managed to make it down the front are bouncing from the off as IDLES open up in the same way as Joy as an Act of Resistance – with the sprawling collage that is ‘Colossus’.
From here on in, it’s a typically high-octane combination of grizzly guitars, flying plastic pint cups and – perhaps most importantly – an onslaught of lyrical content that is thought-provoking, humorous and rabble-rousing in equal measure.
The early trio of ‘Mother’, ‘I’m Scum’ and ‘Danny Nedelko’ pretty much has the crowd where the band want them – but they are certainly not the types to shirk any responsibility of maintaining the pace. Also, anyone still intrigued by the back story to the latter of those tracks may be keen to check out the evening’s support band Heavy Lungs – who are fronted by none other than Danny himself.
Before that track, frontman Joe Talbot explains that it is an ode to the joys and added vibrancy that are brought to the UK as a result of immigration – a sentiment that has rarely been as essential as it is right now.
There are also a couple of selfless tips of the hat from the singer towards the city’s current kings of mind-expanding post-punk CABBAGE, hailing them as the best around and sparking up a brief chorus of their track ‘Terrorist Synthesizer’.
IDLES are not a band to trade on orchestrated hedonism. A simple backdrop, combined with a refutal that they are a punk band, and the ‘spoiler alert’ that they don’t do encores all seem like efforts to play down the all too common art of toothless hysteria.
Instead, Talbot and guitarists Mark Bowen & Lee Kiernan simply throw themselves in and out of the crowd whenever the hell they feel like it – while also letting any potential trouble makers know representatives from Safe Gigs For Women are in attendance. It’s an admirable move and a strong message from a band with hearts in the right place that cultural exuberance is no excuse for violence.
There is, however, time for a stage invasion for those who are able to get near enough through the melee. Following their dispersal, it’s an electrifying finish characterised by a cover of Solomon Burke’s ‘Cry to Me’, the lyrically brilliant ‘Well Done’ and ‘Rottweiler’.
As the rest of the band leave the stage, the final sight of the evening is self-acclaimed ‘court jester’ Bowen, who laps up every last moment of feedback as he waves goodbye with his guitar still hanging from his back. Many look exhausted on the way out, but the pleasure’s been all theirs.