Live Review: Idles – Project House, Leeds 22.02.24

“Shall we dance?” Joe Talbot asks towards the end of a 60 minute set. He’s a bit late. As late as the person wearing the “Free Nelson Mandela” t shirt that’s he’s spotted in the crowd earlier on. 

The dancing started from minute 1. 

48 hours ago, nobody knew this was happening. Yet now, on Thursday night, Project House is packed with fans and more queuing outside to get in amongst it and hear tracks from Idles’ latest offering Tangk, produced by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck, Paul McCartney)

It’s the first of 2 sell-out shows this evening.

The band stalked on to the stage in near darkness, a veil that does not lift through most of the opening number – IDEA 01. It’s an atmospheric start, before we are jarred into life for Gift Horse

Lee Kiernan is electrifying, wrestling his guitar around the stage like it’s trying to get away from him. Mark Bowen, charismatic on guitar and keys, both backed by the tight, pulsating rhythm section of Adam Devonshire on bass and Jon Beavis on drums. It has set the crowd on fire, one that rarely goes out for the next 55 minutes. 

Talbot knows how to play this room. He extols the virtues of God Own County, saying that, as soon as his daughter is old enough to move out, he will be decamping to Yorkshire. Do we doubt him? 

His t-shirt is emblazoned with the “Don’t Mess With Yorkshire” slogan, so I think most will feel he’s right behind this. As ever, it only takes the slightest hint to get a Leeds crowd to chant “Yorkshire! Yorkshire!”, much to Talbot’s delight. “Now it feels like a night out in Leeds!” he laughs. 

Throughout, the lighting is dramatic, moody, with occasional blue and red strobes accompanying the frenetic drumming and energy on stage. Gratitude thumps you in the chest, such is the power of the bass and drums. 

It’s not all one speed. A Gospel is introspective and quiet by comparison to the previous gut punching we had enjoyed up to now. As spears of white spotlights hit the stage, it’s a moment to bask in the musicianship and attitude that Idles bring. It’s also a stark moment of vulnerability, as the song creates a scene of loss and a search for meaning. 

It’s a momentary pause and normal Idles service is resumed with the classic Never Fight A Man With A Perm, still one of the best song titles around! 

Just in case we weren’t already, this is where Talbot checks in to make sure we are dancing. Dancer lights up the room again and keeps us on a high, until the point where we are told it’s the last song of the night. The crowd boo, but Talbot turns this to cheers by suggesting, maybe that meant we didn’t want another song. To a person, the crowd is stoked for a final dance, and this one is special. Rottweiler, capped with a scintillating Beavis drum solo that uses up every last second on the red digital countdown clock on the left of the stage. 

Honestly, that closer will stay with me for a long time. It was a mesmerising finish to an outstanding show. The whole night has show just how Idles are a band at the top of their game. Yes, Tangk is thoroughly deserving of its number one spot achieved just a day after these shows, but truly understand what Idles are about you’ve really got to see them live. Energy, power, passion and straightforward, uncompromising lyrics. When you think about it like that, you can see why they fit in so well in Yorkshire. 

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