[Written by Annegret Maja Fiedler]
[Image Credit: WikimediaCommons//Alexander Kellner]
IDLES at Queen Margaret Union (QMU), Glasgow was an empowering, optimistic and loud audio-visual experience, which included a full body workout. Their tour features their newest album Joy as an Act of Resistance, which does not shy away from directly addressing Brexit, toxic masculinity, bereavement, xenophobia and mental health. It has been receiving rave reviews since its release in August, and has managed to inject heavy punk rock into European and US charts. Their sold out performance on the 20th October, 2018, of course, did not disappoint.
After an impressive and shirtless support performance by Heavy Lungs, IDLES opened their set with dramatic strobe lighting and intimidating riffs provided by Mark Bowen known as Bobo, Lee Kiernan and Adam Devonshire, nicknamed Dev. “Tender, Violent and Queer“ from “Colossus“ echoes in Joe Talbot’s voice. The lyrics, “Forgive me father, I have sinned” accompanied my baptism in sweat. The crowd pulsed to the drums played by Jon Beavis. I braced myself for one of the best gigs of my life, and threw myself into the mosh pit. By the end of their second song “Never Fight a Man with a Perm” I fully accepted that I would probably never find my friends in the crowd again and I was okay with that.
There were several highlights during their performance, which only strengthened my love for IDLES. Joe dedicated songs to his mother, late daughter and the audience. He thanked bar and security staff, as well as the support system which allowed him to make mistakes from which he learned from. He proudly called himself a feminist, told us to love ourselves and to not read The Sun. In addition to an immaculate musical performance, sounding even better than their studio recordings, they knew exactly how to engage with the audience. Mark and Lee would occasionally dip into the crowd. Microphones were held into the crowd. They fist bumped crowd surfers and towards the end of the night stage invasions occurred. Fans flooded the stage and instruments were pressed into their hands for a couple of chords. There was a lot of moshing, which is a type of dance involving a lot of pushing around and slamming yourself into other people. Although this can be dangerous, everyone looked out for each other at IDLES. As soon as someone had slipped and fallen to the ground, they were immediately helped up by those around them. There was not a single minute where I felt unsafe, which is a very rare occurrence at most gigs for me.
They also played my personal favourites “1049 Gotho” and “Well Done” from their older album Brutalist, as well as my more recent favourites. I immediately fell in love with “Scum” when I first heard Joy as an Act of Resistance and seeing it live brought tears to my eyes. I happily called myself “dirty martyred filthy scum” while being pushed all the way to the front of the barrier to admire Dev’s baby blue shorts adorned with kittens. “Danny Nedelko”, named after the frontman of Heavy Lungs, professes love and support towards immigrants. Shouting the lines from this important song “Fear leads to panic, panic leads to pain/ Pain leads to anger, anger leads to hate” with hundreds of others felt special. “Samaritans”, which is about toxic masculinity conditioning men to “man up” and “grow some balls” was just as powerful. The night sadly came to an end with Joe saying “We don’t do encores“, stepping back and the rest of the band ripping into “Rottweiler”. Bobo, a fully qualified dentist, hurls his sparkly guitar around his head. Lights were flashing even more intensely than in the beginning and I felt like I was teleported back into seeing Death Grips at Barrowlands Ballroom.
This was the second time I have seen IDLES, this year. Although their last gig in April at G2 was more intimate, seeing them at the QMU with a much larger crowd was just as enjoyable. There was the same high level of engagement with the audience. I left the venue to take a quick shower before my bar shift feeling more at peace with myself. I have always felt accepted and welcomed by all the other IDLES fans in person and online. I believe that they deserve every single sold out gig and rapidly increasing fan base. The Facebook group “ALL IS LOVE: AF GANG (IDLES Community)” has over 10,000 members, and only confirm that IDLES continuously brings people from all ages, genders and backgrounds together.