How do I like my IDLES? Glad you asked. I like ‘em Well Done.
Sorry, I’ll see myself out.
I and about 1,000 (seriously) of my new closest friends left sweaty and brimming with hope, joy, wonder, merriment, you-name-it after the October 16 sold-out IDLES show at Royale.
Friends, I really, really like IDLES. I appreciate their clever, lefty, earnest, and vulnerable lyrics. I appreciate that those lyrics are twisted up and juxtaposing in a sort-of-Oi brand of music styling that can feel tough-guy, violent, and a bit brutal. And I love that, when they play live, not only are they all in, seemingly hypnotized by their own set, but they’re smiling and laughing, too, euphoric, inviting the rest of us in on their fun.
Their set opened with “Colossus,” followed by “Heel / Heal,” followed by “Never Fight A Man with A Perm,” phew! Lead singer Joe Talbot’s brief between-song banter was rich with sincerity, reminding the room that we’re an important part of a community before launching into “I’m Scum,” noting that “1049 Gotho” is about depression with a plea to get help if you need it, and (actually probably not) joking, “This song is about arming the poor – as are all of our songs,” before “Divide & Conquer.” Security staff were thanked profusely and regularly, and pre-“Samaritans,” the crowd was thanked for offering IDLES a safe space to express themselves, for listening, for allowing them to share, hoping we all looked into and loved ourselves. “The only reason we’re here,” Talbot said, “Is because of you.”
I screamed along to “Mother,” to “Faith in the City,” to “Benzocaine,” laughed when they did a brief mash-up cover of O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2U” and Sam Cooke’s “Cupid,” rushed into the crowd to hold up guitarist Mark Bowen while he stood/walked/was carried atop the crowd and played. IDLES continued to mix and match off Brutalism and Joy as an Act of Resistance., Talbot prefacing “Date Night” with a mention of discovering how boring he was, saying he wrote “Television” for his daughter and a desire to be nice to yourself, pointedly calling out “a celebration of difference” and “the bravery and hard work of immigrants that make this country great, the same as in the UK,” before “Danny Nedelko,” and closing their official set list with “Rachel Khoo.”
Upon returning to the stage for their encore and last song, “Rottweiler,” Talbot noted he was likely preaching to the choir – all of us there that night probably already agree with these between-song quips about listening to each other and not hurting people and replacing bad ideas with good ones – what IDLES stands for as a band. Still, it’s encouraging to be reminded. It’s encouraging to hear loudly and publicly. And it’s encouraging to be among a thousand other sweaty people who agree, raging together, fists collectively raised, especially during this fitting final song that calls for burning down the proverbial house and coming together in unity.
Well done indeed.