Live Review: Idles and Heavy Lungs – Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow – 20/10/2018

Photo Credit: Tom Ham
Photo Credit: Tom Ham

There aren’t a lot of gigs out there where you’ll see people in Manic Street Preachers and Counterparts T-Shirts side-by-side yelling their throats dry, but that’s just the kind of cross-appeal a band like Idles has, and it’s the kind of cross-appeal underground rock music so desperately needs right now.

Because whether you’re here for gigantic sing-along anthems, aggressive bursts of hardcore-infused-energy or messages of positive social consciousness, you’re getting the full package at Glasgow’s QMU tonight. And openers Heavy Lungs (4/5) do more than enough to give the thrill-seekers something to gape in awe at. Lead singer Danny Nedelko’s (yes, from the song) movements and mannerisms are sporadic and convulsive, as he twists across the stage blurting out lyrics to ‘Charmer’ and ‘Poster Boy’ with his purposefully monotone register. Some punters look on confused, but their lack of regard for those people makes their sharp noise punk assault more intoxicating.

Needless to say, Idles (5/5) are a band with building bridges at their heart of their music, and Idles fans are some of the loveliest people in the world (see the Facebook Fan Group ‘‘AF’ Gang’ for full confirmation), but as soon as the churning bassline that opens ‘Colossus’ begins, the QMU becomes a warzone. ‘It’s coming!’ the crowd chant with frontman Joe Talbot, leaping into one another in an act of violent unity. This all takes place before the more frantic Part 2 of the song kicks in, when the pogoing transforms into a full-scale moshing frenzy. From here, the crowd is unstoppable.

Playing a lot of tracks from this year’s stunning ‘Joy As an Act of Resistance’, the band’s delight can be seen as they lunge into the scathing ‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’ as the crowd engage with Talbot’s deadpan lyrics of high street hardmen looking like Love Island extras with violent haircuts, while ‘I’m Scum’s’ lairy Dirty Rotten Filthy Scum” chants has everyone in the room raising their fists in unison. Naturally, fans who missed the initial buzz when debut album ‘Brutalism’ came out last year are spitting out lyrics to ‘1049 Gotho’ and ‘Mother’ like their lives depend on it.

There’s no end in sight to Idles’ antics, and the crowd’s willingness to follow them to the edge of this earth. ‘Exeter’ sees a quarter of the QMU get on the stage to dance along with the band mid-performance, ‘Divide and Conquer’ sees the audience spill into a mass open pit, and the iconic ‘Well Done’ barely needs any input from Talbot as the crowd chant every word off by heart.

By the time ‘Rottweiler’ brings with it a strobe light-laden close to the show, everyone is at a loss of words to comprehend what to make of the carnage that’s just unfolded in front of them. A collective mass of sweat, exhaustion and simultaneous adrenaline, this show has belonged to the audience as much as it has to Idles. And whether each audience member spends their journey home listening to ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ or ‘The Disconnect’, they can take comfort in the fact that for an hour-and-a-half they collectively experienced pure positivity ushered through complete chaos.


Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)


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