IDLES, Jehnny Beth, Lime Garden @ O2 Academy, Brixton, UK, 19th January 2022 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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IDLES, Jehnny Beth, Lime Garden

IDLES, Jehnny Beth, Lime Garden @ O2 Academy, Brixton, UK, 19th January 2022,

Feb 04, 2022 Web Exclusive Photography by Shaun Gordon Bookmark and Share

The last of three long awaited rescheduled Brixton Academy shows, IDLES are finally back now after the release of fourth LP Crawler which critics have been calling their best and most ambitious album yet.

First on tonight in the fading glamour of the former grandiose cinema are Brighton based indie pop fourpiece Lime Garden (formally 6music favs LIME) who prove they have a bright future ahead, thanks to a lively performance where they get to unveil new single “Marbles” before they play before the likes of Feet and Yard Act later in the year.

Next up, it’s Jehnny Beth who casually enters the stage to a bass heavy intro track, dressed in a PVC jumpsuit and looking like an absolute star. Flanked by just a bassist and a multi-instrumentalist flitting from synth to motorik drum machine, the trio sure know how to make an impact despite being few in number as the proceed to impress with an almost cinematically dark set joining post punk with jagged electronica.

Poised yet passionate, Beth stands statuesque in the strobe lights, and it’s a razor-sharp performance from an artist confidently asserting both her creative prowess and command of the crowd. “I’m The Man” initially rivals Trent Reznor in terms of industrial intensity before a rare moment of tranquillity sees the Savages singer step onto the barrier towards the scrum to hold hands with spectators. She screams and it feels like every light bulb is about to shatter. Later, she is joined by Joe Talbot for “How Could You”, an accusing duet that would sound at home on Digital Hardcore. Any other time, Jehnny would have stolen the show and she could have easily been tonight’s headliner.

But we’re here for the Bristol boys IDLES, and it’s still a shock for those of us that saw them rise out of the toilet venue circuit to now play ever growing rooms rather than scrappy small spaces. Or is that more a welcome affirmation of what we always knew – that the positive punks really are Britain’s most vital band right now.

Despite the much larger stages and serious improvements in production, with a lighting rig that would give any superstar DJ a run for their money, all the classic traits of an IDLES gig are still there. The roguish sense of a band of misfit cartoon characters, the endless optimism of their devoted fanbase (especially the ever-apparent AF Gang) even cheering for the roadies as they tune guitars, Joe Talbot’s mood swings between earnest social commentator and aggro agitator and the unsubtle granite hard smack of both their words and sound – but it’s just all been elevated to the next level.

Singalong favourite “Colossus” is always a poignant start to any IDLES show, but never has if felt quite so poignant as the hairs raise on the back of every audience member’s neck during the building intro. Is it because it’s such a significant song? Is it the thrill of seeing a band in continual ascendency? Or is it simply the fact that this is the first real gig many of us have attended since the start of the pandemic? Whatever it is, Talbot racks up the tension even further by instigating a wall of death, daring his devotees to risk life and limb in the most caring way; “Are you ready to collide? Are you ready to look after each other?”

It’s a wonderfully reckless start to a flawless show which plunges headlong into a deep dive of new material including Death Grips inspired “Car Crash”, their take on alt hip hop and easily their best single yet, plus “Mr. Motivator” and “Grounds” which are both taken from their Number 1 album Ultra Mono which sadly, due to obvious reasons, never got the time in the sun it deserved. Combined with the agonised wails of saxophonist Colin Webster, each song sounds both pained and powerful when combined with the growling guitars, punishing drums and granite hard bass.

To look at the band, it’s clear the hunger is there despite the success. The aforementioned Ultra Mono had smashed to the top of the charts as said and latest LP Crawler comfortably broke into the Top 10. Plus, tonight they’re playing before a packed-out venue. A fact that isn’t lost on Joe who reaches out to the crowd in thanks saying “Five thousand people in a room together. Not one fucking day I took this for granted.” Each of them looks leaner, totally focused and even more determined as guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan play with more passion than I’ve ever seen from them before, Jon Beavis mercilessly pummels the skins (his mother Annie furiously moshing front and centre!) and bassist Dev gleefully swinging his hips throughout an immaculately streamlined set now tighter, meaner, and more forceful than ever before, without a single wrong note all night.

Long term fans and casual listeners were not disappointed as the two hours included all the classics, including everyone’s favourite excuse to shout swear words “Mother”, the delightfully taut tension of “Divide and Conquer”, unhinged crowd pleaser “Heel/Heal” and of course anti-racism anthem “Danny Nedelko”. But it’s the more recent material which really shone tonight as “War”, with its Dadaist poetry, becomes the soundtrack to the dystopian movie we now call our lives, the thirty seconds of gratuitous rage “Wizz” is glorious and “The Beachland Ballroom” feels like a moment of collective healing of shared trauma as Talbot howls “damaged” beneath a disco ball reflecting broken beams of light around the room like falling snow and rain dances like Jim Morrison during “The End”. The absolute highlight of the night has to be “Reigns” – my personal favourite has never before roared with such ferocity as lungs explode from screaming on stage and in the stalls in a fervour of passion before the sweaty singer reminds us that the Andrew formerly known as Prince is not the only paedophile in the royal family.

It’s been a long road to success for these boys that began over twelve years ago, but tonight it feels like they’re only just getting started. “You carried us here” says Talbot, as he graciously thanks the audience, but that simply isn’t true. It’s their grit, their determination to continue and unique ability to articulate anger and channel tragedy into anthems has seen them rise at a time when we need authenticity and rebellion more than ever. IDLES are the band you can believe in, and the best is yet to come.


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