FEATURE: Confirmation of Legends: IDLES’ Glastonbury Set Shows They Are Britain’s Most Important Band




Confirmation of Legends



IDLES’ Glastonbury Set Shows They Are Britain’s Most Important Band


YESTERDAY’S Glastonbury performances highlighted…

 IN THIS PHOTO: IDLES stormed the Park Stage yesterday/PHOTO CREDIT: Louise Mason for DIY

a few things that make me proud to be British. To be fair, there is not a lot that does make me proud right now but, in the way people showed love, togetherness and peace at Glastonbury, it made the music come alive and resonate. I have seen pictures and videos from the day – I am not down there myself – and, as Friday progressed and we saw great sets from the likes of Sheryl Crow, there was only one name on the lips of many: the incendiary and biblical IDLES. I have been keeping my eyes on the band for a couple of years now and, like many, my first real taste was 2017’s BRUTALISM. That album marked them out as something rather special. Their 2018 follow-up, Joy as an Act of Resistance won even bigger reviews and, in my view, the songwriting stepped up. They managed to articulate the sense of anger we have in the country and shot back at politicians who want to block immigration and change the country. From tackling toxic masculinity to scolding those who want to take Britain in the wrong direction, that album is rightfully heralded as a bit of a masterpiece. It is a Post-Punk gem that has moments of intimacy and sensitivity among the explosion and anger. Led by the seriously cool and whip-smart Joe Talbot, the boys’ music shows its intellect but is in touch with the people. They are a band who can understand us all and are talking for us.

PHOTO CREDIT: Tess Janssen Photography

That is one reason why Joy as an Act of Resistance connected with so many: the band are expressing what we feel and opening our eyes at the same time. If you have not heard IDLES’ latest album, you need to catch up with it and let it inspire. The reviews, as I say, where immense and NME were keen to lend their praise:

You could blow your entire word-count on quoting Idles’ amazing lyrics. ‘Samaritans’ attempts to annihilate toxic masculinity as Talbot screams, “This is why you never see your father cry,” before roughly 1000 guitars pile in on the defiant line: “I KISSED A BOY AND I LIKED IT.” On the towering ‘Colossus’, an ode to addiction, he rages: “I’m like Stone Cold Steve Austin / I put homophobes in coffins.” The nuance – the attention to detail – in the compositions, though, may be what makes ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ so rewarding to return to.

Everything about ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ is just so perfectly realised. The band began to write the album immediately after they finished work on ‘Brutalism’ – and it shows. The songs feel lived in, the record’s overarching message – that of the necessity of unity, positivity and loving yourself – so empowering that it almost amounts to an entire worldview. It’s even more powerful for the fact that Talbot worked on the album in the midst of massive personal trauma. This is a proper classic punk album, one that people will turn to in times of need, one whose authors are unembarrassed about still believing that art can manifest positive change. As Talbot roars on ‘I’m Scum’: “This snowflake’s an avalanche”.

It is not just the music from the guys that is making me and everyone else pretty excited. There is this feeling that they are speaking more truth than our leaders and have hit peak form at a time when the country needs guidance and compassion. Talbot and the guys are a band that have quotable lyrics a-plenty but they match this with songs that burrow in the head and provide a release. One can feel vulnerable when listening to IDLES and hear from these bold and revealing men who let their emotions out. It has been a while since we have found this band that gets into the head the same way as IDLES. A lot of people bemoan the lack of anthemic bands today and how we have few artists that can join us and make us feel better. IDLES are definitely starting a revolution and, in their wake, bringing through bands like Fontaines D.C. – another band that will be huge very soon. I do love the band chemistry and how close they are but, to me, their singer Joe Talbot is a person who has helped so many people with his lyrics and interviews. IDLES are, of course, more than the sum of their lead but I wanted to bring in Talbot because he has always spoken to me. He has experienced family tragedy and loss and has this courage and resilience that is incredible to see.


In this interview with Long Live Vinyl, Talbot talked about his feminist views and misogyny in the music industry:

Joe is a self-confessed left-wing feminist. His love for his fiancé Beth and late daughter Agatha: “A stillborn was still born / I am a father” as he sings on the heartbreaking June (a nod to the month in 2017 when he lost his baby girl), shines through. It follows that he’d want to do everything he could to protect his family, something else which shines through. With fellow bandmates all in committed relationships, and against a backdrop of high-profile cases of alleged sexual assault and abusive behaviour towards women in the music industry, Idles want to make sure they are clear on the issue and they have a statement to share with anyone trying to cross a line.

“We’ve never had anyone approaching us and propositioning us but we were worried that, you know, that might happen,” explains Joe. “We wanted to have something there that, should something happen, we know what we said – something respectfully saying we’re in a committed relationship and it’s inappropriate and we’re not at all about that as a band.

“There’s such a lot of bullshit around the old guard of rock ’n’ roll and misogyny and casual this that and the other, and it’s extremely dangerous. We have a certain amount of power, and some musicians and some artists probably use that to their advantage, but we want to make it clear to people that we’re not like that at all. We’re not the slightest bit interested in that bullshit. It’s just not part of our make-up. We’re highly unlikely to get in any sort of difficult position because we all have partners that we love. And we’re old and fat”.

IDLES are the complete package and it is humbling seeing them rise and conquer new lands. They have grown from this talked-about group who were promising and primed for big things and am now achieving them. Their music mixes political, personal and social and everyone can relate to what they are throwing down. Rather than focus on relationships and personal heartache, they are a band who want to talk about things more important and universal. Like Fontaines D.C., slowthai and Stormzy, we have these fantastic artists emerging who know what a state the country is in and are not willing to sit back. IDLES have helped break down barriers regarding mental-health and toxic masculinity. They are the sort of band we want young people following and looking up to. IDLES are just calming down from their set at the Park Stage yesterday and they show no signs of slowing down now. DIY reviewed their set and were suitably blown away by the performances:

From the moment the now iconic stabs of bass that open ‘Colossus’ announce their entrance, it’s clear that tonight will be a classic; IDLES have ticked off almost every checkpoint on the way to becoming a truly big, truly huge band, and on the week that they announced a show at London’s Alexandra Palace, they can add Glastonbury to the list of defining steps that are quickly making them one of the country’s greatest.

‘Danny Nedelko’, dedicated to “all the immigrants that make this country a better place”, has become a bonafide anthem, and when the set closes in a customary thrash through ‘Rottweiler’, it feels like - for a band whose last two years have been packed with formative moments - their long-awaited appearance at Worthy Farm has immediately become their greatest. They can go anywhere from here”.

The IDLES tour bus will rock on and they will be busy boys for a while yet. I have mentioned Stormzy already and feel like I should write a piece about him. His headline set yesterday tore the roof off and people are still talking about it. He made history as the first black British artist to headline and he proved those wrong who doubted his credentials and headline-readiness. I shall come to him later but I think we have these great artists who are uniting us and talking the truth. Stormzy might well be the most important solo artist in Britain; someone who is in his own league and is going to get even better. To me, IDLES are the biggest and most important band of the moment and I do think, as they grow, there is nobody that can touch them. Their thrilling set at Glastonbury yesterday proved they are one of the best live acts in the world. The world definitely needs IDLES right now and, as the band keep dominating, thrilling and hitting new peaks, we are all so glad…

TO have them in our midst.