Idles – Live At Abbey Road Sessions

A hurricane draws energy from a warm sea; last December when Idles played live in Leeds there was a fervour and optimism amongst the crowd about Britain’s forthcoming general election, as sections chanted the name of socialist opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to the tune of The White Stripes Seven Nation Army.

Any blind faith that the electorate might choose a radical candidate was misplaced, to say the least, as the UK ended up with it’s own Trump-style administration, one which defaults to the sort of casual spite and cruelty you imagine would fuel Idles to the power of a thousand hurricanes, even if they’re only musical ones.

The quintet have much to celebrate otherwise, including a UK tour selling out in virtually 24 hours, the forthcoming release of their third album Ultra Mono and three sessions, streamed live over two nights, at the none-more-famous studio, London’s Abbey Road.

And yet something appears a little off. Joe Talbot and co. have never been ones to just do; this isn’t a cosy soiree with a piano, some moonlight and a few candles. It might be front room rock, but as session one opens with Heel/Heal, that quiet rage which seems rarely far from their surface contorts them, whilst Never Fight A Man With A Perm and Rottweiler land characteristically flush on the jaw of cultural decay.

As if there could be any other way, it continues as a warts and all spectacle, Stendhal Syndrome not the only song which is started before the band are forced to regroup. It’s also an opportunity for cover versions, The Ramones I Wanna Be Sedated, The Strokes Reptilia and fittingly The Beatles Helter Skelter all touched, each in form a long way from their own little Kansas.

At the conclusion of the first set Mark Bowen smashes his guitar to pieces on the studio floor, the sort of gesture made for pleasing crowds but that instead only emphasises what’s more true as the evening wears on, that Idles have drawn on the love and mania of their audience to galvanise them through hard times and good alike. Until this human power plant make the organism whole again, their 2D selves will have to be enough.

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