IDLES: A Beautiful Thing: IDLES Live at Le Bataclan (Partisan) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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A Beautiful Thing: IDLES Live at Le Bataclan


Dec 05, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The rise of IDLES over the last 18 months has been heartening to watch. After years of half-focused gestation, the Bristol band had one of the best debut albums of 2017 with Brutalism, but with little U.S. exposure their first North American tour in March of 2018 was a modest four dates at small venues in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Toronto. At one of those Brooklyn shows, in a small bar unaccustomed to hosting raucous bands, the 50-or-so people there were buzzing so much that many gave singer Joe Talbot a hug afterward. They came back six months later, soon after their second album Joy as an Act of Resistance was released, and faced a sold out audience tenfold that size. They’ve returned to New York twice since then, headlining significantly larger venues each time.

The reasons for this are apparent on A Beautiful Thing: IDLES Live at Le Bataclan. As great as their studio recordings are, IDLES are at their most compelling when you’re in the same room with them. In action, Talbot, guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan, bassist Adam Devonshire and drummer Jon Beavis are acutely in the moment, and project an effusive, unflagging energy until the last squall of feedback fades. Joy in particular has converted so many listeners because of the way it utilizes rock’s cathartic aggression as a means of self-evaluation and positive messaging without coming across as hollow or preachy (though we could all do worse than to heed the IDLES Guide to Good Citizenship and Modern Manhood). The 19 songs herealmost all of Joy and the majority of Brutalismdon’t just complain about the state of the world, they think about how to improve it.

The choice of venue here could hardly be more poignant given IDLES’ credo of unity, but it’s apparent that it was also simply a storming gig. It’s kind of a shame they seem to have largely left behind the wry “Stendahl Syndrome” from Brutalism, but otherwise there’s no quibbling with the setlist. A live album is of course still an album and not the real experience, but A Beautiful Thing: IDLES Live at Le Bataclan stands well as a souvenir of what has been an extraordinary stretch for the band. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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