Idles performed one of the wildest rock concerts New York has seen in ages at Terminal 5 on October 15, the first of a two-night headlining engagement. The British rock band, comprised of vocalist Joe Talbot, guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan, bassist Adam Devonshire, and drummer Jon Beavis, performed in support of its fourth album, Crawler, which will be released on November 12. These are just a few reasons why the concert was so memorable:
Viewing from the balcony at the tightly-packed audience below in the venue’s massive general-admission standing room, it seemed like the entire throng from the front railing to the bar in back was moshing, pogoing or caught helplessly in a sea of moving bodies for the entire concert. At many concerts, moshers command a small section of the floor. But the entire floor?
Both of the band’s guitarists dove into the audience. Mark Bowen unstrapped his guitar twice to join the crowd surfers while singing into a microphone. Lee Kiernan jumped into the moshpit with both his guitar and a movie camera, moshing all the way to the back of the room while playing guitar with his left fingers and filming the crowd with his right hand. At one point while in the back of the room, Kiernan took off his guitar so that one of his fellow moshers could play it; unfortunately, the mosher only played just one note repeatedly.
Talbot was a super-congenial and super-talkative front person. He repeatedly thanked the audience. “You make me feel so fucking good. This is the best feeling in the world right here. This. Right fucking now. We have spent the last two years spending our time making more music, but also, pondering and wishing for you all to be as lucky as we are. We’re fucking grateful that you’ve brought us back here. Thank you so much. You’re surrounded by fucking talented musicians who aren’t as lucky as us, so I promise you, we’ll work our fucking asses off for you; thank you. Forever.”
Talbot twice thanked the security in the bit under him by the stage’s edge. The secuity force spent a good part of the show catching crowd surfers and helping them safely land in the pit. “One of the beautiful things about playing in New York is that you make us feel at home,” said Talbot. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank security for looking after you in your beautiful home.”
Talbot twice engineered crowd response by interrupting his lyrical stream and asking the audience to divide and separate into halves. When the songs resumed their dynamics, the halves would rush to collide into each other. He did this at the beginning of the concert and again towards the end. While punk bands have employed this tactic for decades, doing it twice in one concert was highly unusual.
Talbot often referred to the audience, both individually and corporately, as “friends.” Talbot asked early in the show, “Lighting person, can you light up our new friends please?” Talbot twice brought new “friends” to come on stage and perform with the band.
“I’ve just read a sign that says, ‘Can I please sing ‘Scum’?”‘ I’m sorry, I can’t answer that, you’re going to have to get up here and show us!” Talbot said. “What’s your name? Caitlyn’s going to sing ‘I’m Scum’ with us tonight.” (Caitlyn did a grand job on the song.)
“Earlier on, we arrived at the venue and met a new friend outside whose mother sadly passed away this year from cancer. We weren’t going to play this song tonight, so I’d like you to help us out by going fucking apeshit for our friend’s lost mother, okay? This song’s for you,” he told Dan, who came on stage. They hugged and Talbot gave him a pair of drumsticks.
Beyond the uniqueness of Idles’ presentation, the relentlessly hard-edged music itself was remarkably innovative and captivating. Talbot harshly barked in a gruff tone that was so unconventionally plaintive that sometimes it appeared as if he was reciting poetry rather than singing. Both guitarists bravely took their parts to coarse and occasionally atonal places to insure that the band’s raging bite remained ferocious. The volatile rhythm section ably pounded a frenzied locomotive-like drive throughout the concert. Idles is quite the live band.
Car Crash (Live debut)
Divide and Conquer
I’m Scum (sung by a fan with bandsupport)
Love Song (with snippets of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps,” Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”)