IDLES – Coventry Central Library – live review


Coventry Central Library
14th April 2018

Coventry’s central library building has a musical history, from Chuck Berry recording there to the Specials triumphing in front of home crowds it’s had its share of history. But to read that one of the most exciting bands I’d found last year was to play there as part of their tour was a bit of a What the hell! moment. There was no way Fighting Boredom was going to miss this one. As the band say, ALL IS LOVE. 


There’s a massive lunatic contingent in front of the tiny stage going absolutely ballistic. There are people scattered around them leaning on book cases and feeling the immense energy pounding into their skulls. Next to me is a sweat sodden fellow with a guitar trailing a lead over and around the people offering to find books for the rest of the band onstage, Mills and Boon is mentioned with a huge grin.

 I got a message from Tracey.. “IDLES playing Cov mate, click on the link” I was at work, frantic minutes and a phone call later I had two tickets. It spread across Facebook friends and then it was sold out. I’d had the tip to check them out by two different bands in Brum last year, when people tell me to check stuff out I do, and with IDLES I wasn’t disappointed.

 When you get over the fact that you are going to a gig in a library with a tuck shop. No alcohol, the only bars are chocolate. You realise that this is ace. Libraries are closing, or being made to lose paid staff like water running through a sieve. It fills up quickly and the reason it sold out so quickly can be put down to the size of the audiences space and the huge buzz that this gig has generated.
The band come onstage, there’s a cheer and the guitars feedback and chirp. The singer looks around and the drums kick into Heel/Heal and that’s it really. That’s it until they finish. The beat is aggressive, hard and unrelenting. The bass and guitars clear and very very aggressive, and the crowd is like a battleground. The vocalist is wielding the mic stand over his shoulder, none of the band are still at all; it’s like the concentration of chaos onstage is leaking into the audience. They don’t look like punks, indie kids or whatever, they look like Idles, tattoos, facial hair and high guitars. They feel like a force for what needs to be stood up for. They talk about unity and love and that’s what counts, they just stand for us, fuck all those shit expectations from everyone else and just live your life as you feel you should.
I’m struggling with words here, I’m not often knocked speechless but I’m unsure I’m getting across just how good this is, another defining moment in my life of music. 
The singer introduces songs by telling us to have faith in our cities and how the libraries are dissapearing. He talks about their post-brexit song when you realise the people you disagree with are just poor and angry, he dedicates a song to “Understanding your Great opposition.” He talks about his immigrant friends that work for the NHS and the others who built this country. 
Listen to the lyrics, they echo his sentiments, this is a political band and as such are pretty much perfect. The words are about standing together, about getting informed and getting yourself together. 

Then there’s the music. Short, razor sharp and focused to the point of dissapearing. There are new songs but most of this comes from Brutalism which I and most of my neighbours are listening to at this moment of writing. A couple of new songs which if I could read my notes I would be able to name. But darkness and barely contained adrenaline make for bad handwriting.
They go into Mother and the crowd are killing each other, screaming at the band and blowing up. The singer nods in approval and they go again. I’ve not seen a band like this for a while. I’ve not seen something that is either going to blow up or implode, there’s that much at stake here, I know what my money’s on

They start singing Mariah Carey and fall apart laughing, there’s a huge amount of love between the band, between songs they take the piss and make each other grin widely, they do Asian dancing and get everyone else to too. You feel like they are just an extension of the crowd, they know this too and work the frenzied dancing up until there are crowd surfers, band members playing in the audience and everyone in the place singing along. 
They finish by announcing that “this is the last song, we don’t do encores because they are weird and we’re not Queen.” They then proceed to take the place apart one last time and with a last thank you they are gone.
IDLES, so much love generated with so much energy. Get to them, really, you’ve got to.

IDLES website is, they are on Facebook and Tweet as @idlesband.

All words by Adrian Bloxham. All pictures by Martin Ward

Adrian Bloxham

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