Running late to a gig is worse than running late to class, much worse. As I stumble lost through Glasgow I am very conscious of the fact that the 8:30 start of IDLES set is quickly approaching. When I near Queen Margaret Union its not google maps that lead me to the venue, it’s the booming sound of IDLES’ opening song that is filling campus. I ran towards it like a moth to a lamp.
At the end of the first song the gig is on fire. It doesn’t feel like the start; the crowd of mostly twenty to fifty year old men is hype and singing along already. I get stuck in the back. I can’t see the stage but the crowd is pulsing.
IDLES tear through tracks. With the end of one quickly comes the start of the next. No one misses a beat. Everywhere people are embracing, singing to each other, jumping, dancing, crowd surfing.
With the scream “I am a feminist!”, IDLES launches into ‘Mother’. Social and political commentary come between many tracks along with thank you’s to the crowd and the security guards catching the onslaught of crowd surfers. The political messages fuel the crowd, the energy of a like-minded group fed with the frustrations of the world.
The crowd leaps as ‘Danny Nedelko’ and ‘Divide & Conquer’ come up in the set list. Announcing “without you we are f**king nothing”, the band pulls members of the crowd onto the stage. Only insanity ensues. Singer Joe Talbot pushes off hangers on, but accepts what appears to be a very heartfelt fan hug. When it’s time to get the fans off stage the task is not easy, but eventually everyone trickles off and the gig jumps straight back in.
Claiming encores are for idiots, IDLES announce their last song. Talbot does his part, says thanks and leaves the stage. The rest of the band carries on with face melting musical mayhem. Guitarist Mark Bowen brandishes the mic but only for screaming into. Full of noise and energy, suddenly the music cuts, the lights go out, and the band leaves the stage.
As promised there was no encore. This show was one of the best shows I have seen in years. Every single person left drenched in sweat and with a smile on their face.
I am a massive fan of classic 1970’s punk. That causes me to be a skeptic about almost all new bands that label themselves as punk. I put them under a microscope and compare them to the likes of the Modern Lovers and the Clash. Few, if any, have filled the requirements that I believe it takes to be a true punk band. IDLES is one of the few. This show felt like the closest thing I’d ever get to being in a 70’s punk venue.