Touted as an alternative to much that is wrong with the world, the antithesis of reality TV generated celebrity and the turgid, monotonous, boring and fake, Idles want to 'work hard' and give you an honest, no holds barred, heart on your sleeve, 'visceral' performance to make you sit up and listen. A cure for social media driven absurdity, an antivenom against mediocrity, a vaccine of truth and passion. Idles carry the spirit of Punk like flag barers for an alternative musical Olympics where enhanced performance through technical wizardry is definitely not to be tolerated. There's to be no lip synching or backing track sorcery just a true and honest, impassioned delivery.
With their Unity Tour selling out fast, and this gig selling out almost immediately, the band are a 'hot ticket' and this was certainly a very hot (ceiling dripping hot) night once the band had started up. Ramsgate Music Hall has been lucky, or savvy, enough to host some great acts in its modest venue and Idles were definitely a coup as it's very unlikely you'll catch them again in such intimate surroundings.
Once we'd been treated to a dose of Lice (support in the form of a foursome, consisting of a couple of hillbillies, one in full dungarees, a singer trying his best to look the part and a guitarist who looked like he'd rather be anywhere else) the night was set for the full tilt intensity of a band re-writing the Punk handbook. Idles were quite literally stupefying from the get-go. Their collective energy, electricity and snarly, feral, barely tempered menace was a thing of disturbing joy to behold.
There was a very mixed crowd who had managed to procure a ticket. A few DK (not NY) tees, the odd pork pie hat, a guy who looked like he'd stepped off the set of a 110 ad, a solitary Mohican, an extra from a Blues Brothers tribute act, a few PR types, far too many shorts (it's still April guys!) and a chap sporting a 'I Still Hate Thatcher' tee (he was among kindred spirits). Whoever they were it was clear they were all united in their adoration of Idles. From the opening chords of 'Heel/Heal' there was little let up in the fifteen track set that was delivered at blistering pace and with untethered raw power and passion.
Joe Talbot was a captivating frontman as he and the band unleashed their potent brand of neo-punk upon the Ramsgate crowd. There weren't many moments where the boisterous crowd were not 'going for it' as hard as the band. Joe took time to make sure everyone felt safe in their space and made the most of the up close and personal surroundings of the Music Hall. He explained that each venue had been chosen for its sense of community, whilst also taking time to acknowledge RMH for its work as an independent venue and its support of new music.
The breakneck speed of the performance was matched only by the impassioned delivery of each of the band but in particular Joe and drummer Jon Beavis who both had an exhaustive work out. 'Mother' was the first of the evening's tracks to really galvanise the expectant crowd as the five piece got into their stride and went for broke. "Are you hot enough? I don't think you are." Joe called out before dedicating 'Divide & Conquer' to everyone who works for the NHS. The thumping, tribal start to the song gave way to its riotous break down and that was it; all hell broke lose in the mosh-pit as the band ramped up the ferocity.
There were dedications to "All the immigrants; I love immigrants, they built this country", to the compassionate on, 'Love Song', and to the shit hole of a town where I grew up, 'Exeter'. Joe even went off script and treated us to a little Lionel style crooning along the way. The crowd were wound up into a frenzy with nearly every subsequent track through 'The Idles Chant' to '1049 Gotho', 'I am Scum' and eventually, and penultimately, to crowd favourite, 'Well Done'. The Mary Berry name checking break through track went down a storm as all those gathered before the band summoned their last bursts of energy to enter once more into the chaotic mosh that must of had a mean age of 40+. An epic, fully blown 'Rottweiler' sealed the set as Joe walked off through the sweaty crowd and the band played on, delivering a thrashing crescendo.
Idles played out of their skin to deliver an awesome gig that will be vividly remembered by a very lucky few for many years to come.' Punk's Not Dead' as the phrase goes (Although Joe did say at one point 'We're a folk band'), it's just been re-born and it's wilder than ever.
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