IDLES / Crows, Brighton Dome, 29th March 2019
Some years ago, with a bit of time to kill at a festival, I wandered into a marquee to see what was going on. Even pre-IDLES’ mania, the band clearly had a strong following. Joe gave a shout out to ‘our bassist who can’t be here tonight’ and the crowd started chanting ‘Dev! Dev! Dev!’ It was loud, chaotic, late in the day and, not knowing who they were or any of their names, I thought they were yelling ‘Dead! Dead! Dead!’ A bit taken aback that this seemed like a shout of joy, I wondered what I’d stumbled into. It turned out that joyful shouting was pretty appropriate as things became clearer and I came out at the end with a chance encounter having turned into a festival highlight.
Fast forward to March 2017 and an army of people trying to find tickets for their sold out show at 100 capacity venue The Albert in Brighton, coinciding with but presumably booked way before the release of Brutalism. A night to remember, new fans picked up along the way and the start of widespread acclaim for the five piece now described by The Guardian as ‘Britain’s most necessary band’. It’s to their credit and fits with their ethics that their sold out show at Brighton Dome was booked with the same promoter and drew the same crowd (just with about 1700 of their friends joining in this time).
Opening up on the night, Crows made their second trip to Brighton in a week. Giving a formidable performance as always, their songs filled with brooding darkness had the crowd onside straight away. The support slots on this tour will doubtless open them up to a new audience and, with their long awaited debut album Silver Tongues picking up positive reviews and plaudits, perhaps it’s finally time for Crows to get the wider recognition they deserve.
With the instantly recognisable percussion and bass of Colossus filling the room, IDLES took to the stage to a huge welcome roar. If anyone had concerns that the band couldn’t scale up the usual chaos and interaction of their shows they would have been kicked straight into touch. The larger venue served only to magnify what’s gone before; a wider stage for Joe to pace, longer guitar leads to allow the forays into the crowd to go further, a bigger crowd to surf. Second up, Well Done lightened the mood and had the Dome jumping and singing along in full voice.
With no let up in pace and energy from the band or the crowd, we were treated to tracks old and new; Mother, Never Fight a Man with a Perm, Exeter and Samaritans all firm favourites and each sounding great. Despite the continuous mosh pit and conveyor belt of surfers, the atmosphere was good-humoured and offered up a bit of much needed positivity in a climate where oppression has been all too prevalent lately.
Where IDLES go from here is anyone’s guess. Right now they are more than holding their own as their reputation and following continue to soar and things don’t look like slowing down any time soon. Defining IDLES sound and ethos isn’t easy but their album titles do a decent job – Brutalism and Joy as an Act Of Resistance sum them up pretty well. Another step on the upward journey of chaos, another night to remember. Well done indeed.
Words and photos by Siobhan
1st April 2019