LIVE: IDLES @ Rock City, Nottingham

By Amy Albinson

There have been few bands more talked about this year than Bristolian quintet IDLES. Fresh off the back of releasing their sophomore album, ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’, they’ve toured across the US before returning to the UK alongside fellow Bristol-based post-punk group Heavy Lungs.

Tonight, Nottingham’s Rock City feels more than just sold out. People line the balcony, balance on steps, and climb the sofas and tables as IDLES stride out to a welcoming roar of anticipation from the crowd. In front of the bright pink, cartoon-esque backdrop the bass hums as front man Joe Talbot reaches for the microphone and, with deep droning vocals, album opener ‘Colossus’ begins. The excitement in the room is palpable as the audience yell every word back, met with grins from the rest of the band. Each line exudes an aura of confrontational anger as Talbot shouts “I am my father’s son”, fists clenched, slamming into his chest. It’s slow-paced and hypnotising, and the crowd are transfixed.

There’s a pause, a wail of “1, 2, 3, 4” and then plastic cups are arcing through the air, alcohol spraying across the room as they run full speed into ‘Never Fight a Man with a Perm’. White strobe lights accompany the crowds screams of “concrete to leather” and the sound of feet stomping resonates across the venue. After the intensity of the song comes to a close Talbot waves to the audience; there’s something intimate about the space as they wave back, grinning, the crowd clearly lost in their infectious energy. The lights flicker in greens and magenta as Talbot announces “this song is for all the scumbags” and launches into ‘I’m Scum’, his aggressive shouts of “I’m council housed and violent” sending flecks of spit across the stage as he struts in a circle, hunched over and grimacing. The crowd cheer as the song ends and Talbot yells “this song is about being welcome in communities and how much I fucking love immigrants”, leading into fan favourite ‘Danny Nedelko’. Next up is ‘Television’ which sees bodies in the air as crowd surfers fly over the barrier, screaming back up at the band.

For a band whose music is so visceral and at times antagonistic, there is undeniably a feeling of warmth and pure joy spilling from them, which is felt in the crowd. “I’ll tell you one more time,” Talbot bellows, “We. Are. Not. A. Punk. Band.” Pulling the front row on stage, the band yell out with them before moving into a cover of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ – met with laughter and appreciative shouts from the audience. It feels like they have a point to prove tonight, but are unafraid to enjoy themselves as well as they deny the moniker of ‘punk’ and declare “don’t read The Sun, it’ll give you cancer”. Their set breaks down into decay as the distortion becomes overwhelming and the band fall to the floor – as the last note rings out they rise to applaud the audience, their energy finally exhausted.

After finishing their UK run, IDLES are heading to Europe to close out the year with more high-intensity performances that will undoubtedly see their popularity continue to soar.