IDLES – Victoria Warehouse, Manchester 29/01/2022

IDLES Joe Talbot Pic: Andi Callen

A complete contrast to last night’s Half Man Half Biscuit gig, where the moshpit was populated by Blue Badge holders, hoping that the DWP weren’t watching and waiting to take away their disability payments.

As Idles have got more popular, so their fan base has broadened. With this increase, they seem to attract more than their fair share of drunken dickheads and hipster punks of both sexes. Of course, this may be partly due to the preloading of alcohol, due to the lack of local hostelries and the exorbitant bar prices at Victoria Warehouse.  I actually saw a woman who’d smuggled in a bottle of wine, brazenly swigging from it in front of the barrier. Still amazed that people can afford to launch half full drinks towards the stage. And before I dive into the review itself, I’m saddened to report that I witnessed a very distraught and dishevelled young woman report that she had been groped to security. I have no words.

Idles are one of my favourite bands on record and live they are exhilarating. They’ve released 2 albums since the last time most of us last saw them, and there is an expectant buzz in the crowd. They’ve been entertained by Big Joanie and then the amazing Jehnny Beth, but now they want the main course. The guttural power of Ultra Mono and the more experimental Crawler, should really be the recipe for a great night. Instead, we get a set dominated by Crawler and Joy As An Act of Resistance, with just Grounds and Mr Motivator culled from Ultra Mono.

The cavernous venue did nothing for their sound, and the power ended up being dissipated. It sounded great in the photo pit, where bouncers out numbered the photographers, with fans coming over the barrier, even during the slow-paced opening of Colossus. Once the first 3 songs had ended (Car Crash & Mr Motivator) and I had to return to the rear of this vast shed, to watch the rest of the show, the difference in sound was immediately noticeable, even to my battle hardened ears. The crowd go mad(der) as the opening bars of Grounds result in a massive singalong.  

Pic: Andi Callen

Mother precipitates a rush from the bar and several sweaty casualties slip their way out the mosh for a breather. Crawl is followed by the first appearance off the debut Brutalism album in the shape of Divide And Conquer and the pace drops again and then slows to a crawl through The Beachland Ballroom, which actually sounds ok live. It’s stomping time as the opening riff of Never Fight A Man With A Perm, complete with the stolen Nancy Sinatra refrain. Sadly, the irony is lost on some of those present tonight. Despite all the “look after each other” rhetoric and platitudes coming from the stage, there are pockets of aggression throughout. Reminds me of some of the Hardcore shows I frequented back in the day, except alcohol rarely played a part in those! New Sensation, another Crawler track, reminds me of Do The Supernova by John Robb’s Membranes, with it’s heavy bass driven beat and simple percussion. 1049 Gotho is followed in quick succession by the gothic sounding When The Lights Come On and Love Song, which musically isn’t far removed from Bauhaus. Joe announces the arrival of the Stump sounding The Wheel, as a song about alcoholism and heads nod furiously in time, “can I get a hallelujah”!

Joe Talbot is a great front man, but can somebody please tell me what the point of the singalong Manc tunes from the past section was? Crashing through songs by such local luminaries as Oasis, The Hollies, Simply Red and even Gary Barlow, simply highlighted that he’s a vocalist, not a singer. It was like a load of drunk wedding guests after the bar has closed.

Television is followed by live fave, I’m Scum, “I’m council house and violent”, which is where Chav is reported to have originated from! It’s prime singalong territory, but I love it just for the mention of the Beast of Bolsover, Dennis Skinner MP. Date Night, Wizz, Danny Nedelko, The End speed by until set closer Rottweiler ends proceedings.

It’s easy to criticise a bands choice of set list, especially if your faves don’t appear on it. I was hoping for War and Anxiety at the very least. [Note War was played on pretty much every night of the tour except tonight]. None of the tracks off Ultra Mono, recorded with Jesus Lizard’s David Yow on vocals, made it, but I feel they missed a trick not playing Ne Touche Pas Moi in light of what I mentioned earlier, especially as Ms Beth was already in the house as support!


IDLES Joe Talbot Pic: Andi Callen
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