19 Oct 2019
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Gig Review: Idles with Miss June @ Tuning Fork, Auckland - 20/01/2019

21 Jan 2019 // A review by Paul Goddard

I first came across Idles around 6 months ago. A good friend of mine in the UK posted something on Facebook along the lines of “I have come late to the Idles party but fucking hell....”

A few minutes later I am searching on Spotify and the hit was instant for me. A similar buzz to the first time I heard Nirvana. The music on Brutalism, their debut album, is as caustic as its title suggests but it is the nursery rhyme quality of the lyrics that got me hooked. This is agit-poetry with words that strike home with a brutal open honesty.

Whilst the subject matter is often dark there is a sense of positivity created by these five abnormally beautiful normal men from Bristol. I have bought all the albums, the EPs’ and just got my t-shirt from the merch desk.

I met the AF Gang (Idles Fans) and I am in Auckland's Tuning Fork about to see and hear what I hope is going to be something that stays with me forever.

The hype around Idles for me hasn’t come from the media but my own mind as a result endless plays of Brutalism and their latest album Joy as an Act of Resistance.

These days tickets to an Idles gig are as rare as free parking spot in Auckland and the whole Australasian tour is already sold out as are many of their UK and USA dates.

First up we have Auckland locals Miss June. I last saw them opening for the Foo Fighters and whilst I was impressed I am looking forward to seeing them in this intimate venue. There is a decent crowd when they take the stage early, it being a Sunday night.

The instantly recognisable machine gun drumming from Tom Leggett sets a clear line of intent. This is high paced pop/punk/rock and the crowd responds in kind by packing stage front. There is an edge to the music Miss June create which along with some skill full songwriting and delivery from vocalist Anabelle makes an intoxicating mix. Fast, intense in places with thoughtful lyrics Miss June are one step up from most bands and have a bright future.

Their music suits this smaller venue and the short set leaves an appreciative crowd, along with members of Idles, cheering for more. Their debut album is due for release soon and based on this performance it is one you should check out.

The D.I.Y. approach is clear when members of Idles enter the stage to set up their own gear. With no guitar or drum techs in sight the banter starts with the crowd as amps buzz and their extremely tired looking sound engineer watches on from behind the desk. Tuning Fork holds about 400 people, and everyone moves forward as front-man Joe Talbot enters the stage.

Dev strums a slowed down bass rhythm to opener Colossus which adds an intensity to the song as it builds, it goes, and it goes, and it goes. The tribal beats sinking in, getting people to move while the words punch home.

The brilliantly titled never fight a man with a perm follows, and the crowd are lapping it up singing along to every word. It is interesting that Idles are managing to connect with a global audience when the lyrics are dealing with some very specific UK topics such as Brexit, immigration etc.

I am not sure how many Kiwi's know who Mary Berry is or even Trevor McDonald, but Joe Talbot connects because he is being brutally honest and singing about what it is like to be a "normal" human being and dealing with the shit that life throws at you. He is also offering hope and showing that you can get through this stuff and come out a better person because of it. That is a universal message anyone can relate to.

An Idles gig is like being caught in a whirlwind, a maelstrom of angst, thrashing guitars, grins and growls, nods and winks all released with a mix of sarcasm, intelligence and positivity. It’s a chaotic mess. Bowen is a madman lost in his own world, Dev a powerhouse of brutal beautiful rhythm interspersed with shouts and growls that resonate off the walls of this small venue.


Joe Talbot is the eye of the storm. Everything channels through him. He comes across like Tom Hardy's character Alfie Solomon in Peaky Blinders. No bullshit, kind of scary, not sure if he is someone you would want to cross but completely entertaining.

"This song is for every scumbag in this fucking room" is how we are introduced to SCUM, a song that marches along to a beat with its core message being more inclusive via its honesty than anything any lying politician could come up. Tonight, at this moment in the Tuning Fork in Auckland we truly are "all in this together".

Next up another sing-along, Danny Nedelko dedicated to all the immigrants in the room (of which there are many like me of course) it is a blistering attack on the racist attitudes often fuelled by the media that has seen the UK tear itself apart via Brexit. Something we can all relate to as countries look to build walls rather than break down barriers.

The words connected with me when I first heard them "fear leads to panic, panic leads to pain, pain leads to anger, anger leads to hate" and give me goosebumps tonight. It is pure genius and has humanity in its soul.

Exeter sees members of the crowd pulled on stage along with one very talented young lad who is given Bowens' guitar to play and proceeds to shred and screech his way through the track.

The Solomon Burke cover Cry To Me slows things down temporarily and then we have set closers, Well Done and the media blasting Rottweiler which ends with just Bowen on drums while Dev drowned in feedback and swirling reverb drives the last bass beats home.

Idles came to New Zealand. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket you are in for a treat. Go with an open mind and listen. Sing along and enjoy a celebration of what it is like to be alive today and how we are really all in this life together. I won't forget it and I am going back for more tonight.

"So, won't you take my hand sister and sing with me in time G-R-E-A-T".

 

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