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IDLES – Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK (14th March 2017)

Bristol, a breeding ground of alternative culture; Massive Attack, Portishead, supposedly Banksy… and now a new wave of punk. IDLES. Anyways, Bristol is here taking Birmingham by storm as these five piece producers of dynamic fuzz take to the stage at the Hare and Hounds pub.

Firstly, Scarlet Rascal are to prime the crowd for what’s to come. Slam the tone of Mr Mark E Smith into the body of a twenty something and tie it together with an overly intoxicated surf rock sound and you’ve got a pretty interesting act. Their leads absent stare adds to the intensity of the performance, only leaving your ears wanting more as your mind is encapsulated by their despondent air

From the second Idles vocalist, Joseph Talbot, takes to stage its raw passion at its finest. Swinging arms and a giddy jump, warming up as his PTSD ridden eyes bulge from the get go. An intensity that immediately grabs your attention as he stands tall surrounded by his entourage. Growing up with a matriarchal upbringing the performance of their track Mother punches me square in the chest. Its lyrics highlighting the struggle mothers go through just to keep you safe. Every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction, right? And whilst she’s working her tits off and the conservative government is cutting left right and centre, they leave her one kick to the grave and you one kick away. Without her there’s no doubt I’d be dead.  Not only this, the lyrics “sexual violence doesn’t start or end with rape//it starts in our books and behind our school gates.” send a shiver to the back of your spine and cause your mouth to become dry. Calling out the everyday underlying sexism that has become somehow normal and largely accepted within our world.

Apparently being from Bristol they’re constantly getting the whole “Do you know Massive Attack?” malarkey, so between songs is a quick ode to UB40 “Thanks Birmingham for housing them I guess.”. All before the consistent drumming of 1049 Gotho begins and guitarist, Mark Bowen’s knees begin to twinge as he wanders the stage in full cowboy fashion before stopping in his tracks and Joe’s fists slowly rise, overcome with rage, only for his knuckles explode into the cymbal up front, that’ll surely be smashed to bits by the end of the set. The second the brazen clash of sound kicks in Mark is out in the crowd riling around the mosh pit at arms with the crowd whilst his fingers rip into those strings. “He won’t last five fucking minutes with a body like mine and a mind like mine” Joe roars as his fists pound his forehead, beating out those thoughts and throwing them into the room to be battered by the sea of swinging limbs.

No doubt the most raucous of songs from this show is the high octane charge of Benzocaine “I wouldn’t know about that, but Dev on the other hand. It was this or a song about pizza sausage rolls so…” Jokes Joe, before calling to a couple members of the audience to say they didn’t hear that. The tune has the same effects as the drug itself, a fast cardiac rest inducing beat that’s coupled with a constant background barking, catching you like a dog bite numbing the flesh from your bones. This band have sure been through a lot these past years from what I’ve heard and there’s no doubt the lyrics “I thought benzocaine was supposed to numb.” Relate to that somewhat.

I really don’t think they give a toss what everyone thinks about them. They’re here to perform. But, for those who do, I can assure you that despite the frightening sound, you’ll be surrounded by familiar arms to make you feel comfortable in the most uncomfortable of surroundings. Now get to a show, pronto, and take your mother.

Hare and Hounds