IDLES | Credit: Dave Simpson/WireImage

IDLES Review – Shouty Catharsis At Sold Out Melbourne Show

IDLES performed at Forum Melbourne on Monday, 31st October. August Billy reviews.

There were a lot of men at IDLES. There are five of them in the band, and men constituted an overwhelming majority of those crammed into the stalls of the sold-out Forum theatre. There were plenty of women in the house too, and all seemed united by their sincere appreciation for the punks from Bristol.

IDLES Return to Melbourne After Nearly Four Years


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IDLES make music that chimes with various trappings of masculinity. It’s loud, hard, aggro and shouty. The guitars and drums scarcely let up throughout the 90-minute set. And while the lights on a couple of synthesisers twinkled from stage right all evening, the machines were barely touched.

Songs from 2018’s Joy As An Act of Resistance dominated the set list. IDLES have released two albums since – including last November’s stylistic innovation, Crawler – but songs like ‘Colossus’, ‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’, ‘Samaritans’ and ‘I’m Scum’ garnered the most vocal response.

IDLES – ‘I’m Scum’

It was Halloween and the band were all in fancy dress. Guitarist Lee Kiernan wore a dress. The band’s other guitarist, Mark Bowen, was dressed as a Christmas turkey. Drummer Jon Beavis was briefly visible as a shark and bass player Adam Devonshire presented as a giant red hand with its index finger raised. Singer Joe Talbot wore a pink hair metal wig. It suited him.

Talbot was, for obvious reasons, the centre of attention. Much of that which distinguishes IDLES from other bands in their field – i.e., their emphasis on decency and their sometimes goofy advocacy for living positively – stems from Talbot’s lyrics. But the band’s beating heart was its rhythm section.

Beavis had the most demanding task of the bunch. Generating a sense of reinless chaos is within the remit of his bandmates, but this can only work if Beavis holds it all together. To do so, he was required to play with tireless force from top to drop. As for Devonshire, it’s possible that no one in the house enjoyed IDLES’ performance as much he did.

Talbot, Kiernan and Bowen spent much of the show running riot all over the stage. But Devonshire kept his feet planted and revolved his hips. When he wasn’t headbanging, he’d throw his head back and shout Talbot’s lyrics into the sky as though under the spell of a pentecostal preacher.

He wasn’t alone in doing so. Many hundreds of those in the sold out venue found catharsis in belting out lines such as “The mask of masculinity / Is a mask, a mask that’s wearing me,” “My mother worked 17 hours 7 days a week,” and “If someone talked to you / The way you do to you / I’d put their teeth through / Love yourself.”

The sound occasionally turned to mashed potato, but the band’s raw energy and the crowd’s hearty but not aggressive embrace made sure it wasn’t a dampener.

Further Reading

Nigel Godrich Is Reviving His Legendary ‘From The Basement’ Music Series With IDLES & More

IDLES Share Intense New Single ‘Car Crash’

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