Idles’ highly anticipated reemergence back on to the touring live music scene did not fail to electrify Sheffield’s O2 Academy.
Colossus, an immense tale of toxic masculinity, kickstarted the set with an energy that was sustained throughout. Building slowly, Idles teased the crowd, who have waited two years to be graced with their presence, until Joe commanded the crowd to split, before an almighty mosh pit commenced. Car crash, the first song on the setlist from fourth album CRAWLER, provided perhaps the first moment of realisation of the true power of this band. Inundated with strobe lights, combined with the brooding and onomatopoeic nature of this song, meant hearing this tune live was an immersive experience - a poignant moment after having been deprived of this feeling for so long.
Yorkshire! Yorkshire! And on it goes… It would have been impossible to forget where you were, with Joe’s appreciation for the county being channeled between every other song, through the exclamation of the chant that needs little encouragement amongst Yorkshire folk.
Support act Jehnny Beth’s appearance for Ne touche pas moi created an electric energy on stage, which was then followed by the ferocious Divide and Conquer, with Joe not hesitating to express his resentment for the ‘inspiration’ behind this song. The Beachland Ballroom, the first and incredibly powerful first single released from Crawler, didn’t fail to leave the crowd lost for words. The initial release of this single felt like a breath of fresh air - a new hope for artistry at the end of such a tumultuous period. All eyes were on Joe for the hard-hitting MTT 420 RR heading into the end of the set, a turning point of sorts and a moment of respite before the storm that is War.
Non-toured third album Ultra Mono arguably missed out within the set - the lack of what unfortunately became pandemic-induced lockdown tunes was particularly evident in the omission of Model Village. Joe has expressed that the sentiment of this song no longer reflects them as a band, a crushing reveal to those of us who perhaps connected to this album in its entirety upon its release.
A simple glance around the venue at the entranced crowd tells you everything you need to know about the power of Danny Nedelko. Not just a man, but a fierce anthem for the underdog and the power of acceptance in society. The room was teeming with crowd surfers and pumping fists; an aggressive passion for this music and the sense of unity it provides.
To fail to mention the band’s wonderful rendition of a host of songs in their attempt to make penultimate tune Love Song last the extra 20 minutes they found themselves in possession of would be to do them a great disservice. We discovered that Idles can cover (the term ‘cover’ used loosely) Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, but could Carey do Mother justice? That is a crossover I’m sure we’d all like to see.
It is hard to find fault in this set. It was a celebration of community and the openminded, something which feels more important than ever before as the live music industry builds back up to its former glory.
By Eve Jones
Photo credit- Tom Ham