ALBUM REVIEW: IDLES – A Beautiful Thing: Live at Le Bataclan

8/10

IDLES - A Beautiful Thing: Live at Le Bataclan

2019 has undoubtedly been a fantastic year for this Bristolian five-piece post-punk band. For virtually every music award in existence; there was at least one Idles nomination. Idles were nominated a record five times at this years’ AIM Music Awards. They also won several awards including two AIM Music Awards.

Performing live for Idles is an opportunity for them to keep a raw and urgent feel to their songs. Across Live at Le Bataclan sees Idles perform their raw outfit across nineteen songs from their two LP’s. When Idles recorded their debut, Brutalism, they refused to record each song more than three times in order to sustain as much rawness and urgency as possible.

Live at Le Bataclan includes eight tracks (including “Well Done”, “Mother”, Faith in the City” “10:49 Gotho” and “White Privilege”) from Idles’ debut effort which covered topics including feminism, criticism of the post-2010 Conservative governments and Mental Health. As well as social commentary; Brutalism was also an album of loss and mourning for frontman Joe Talbot (whose mother died during the Brutalism recording sessions). Seven months after the debut LP was released, a limited edition run of 100 vinyl’s was released with Talbot’s mother’s ashes pressed into each of the records.

The main feature of Live at Le Bataclan is Idles most recent and commercially successful LP, Joy as an act of Resistance, featuring eleven of its twelve tracks. In many respects, one can easily think they are actually listening to Joy as an act of Resistance as the first two tracks on Live at Le Bataclan are “Colossus” and “Never fight a man with a Perm” (the opening tracks to Joy as an act of Resistance).  Furthermore, both Live at Le Bataclan and Idles 2018 LP both playout with “Rottweiler”. One immediately sees how the privileged Bataclan audience dig Idles attempts at showing their vulnerability and wider messages of self-confidence, self-love and “community and trust”.

“Colossus” is exceptionally interesting. Talbot introduces his motley of many personalities, including, Fred Astaire, Jesus, Evil Knievel and Reggie Kray. When Joy as an act of Resistance was released, much commentary was made on the poignancy of the lyrics. Whilst the sound engineering seldom exercises any auto-tuning on Live at Le Bataclan; nothing is taken away from Joe’s vocals. His diction, interpretation and soul can be revealed and experienced beyond the walls of the Parisian Bataclan. The lyrics “I’m a Dennis Skinner Molotov. This snowflakes’ an avalanche. I don’t care about the next James Bond. He kills for Country, Queen and God” from “I’m Scum” clearly projects Talbot’s analysis of his social observations.

One can witness at first-hand the audience’s consistent elation throughout this nineteen track performance which has no breaks or stoppages.  What is most impressive, is how Idles maintained momentum whilst playing extended versions of their songs. After all, the majority of punk tracks are rooted in short, filler-free songs rarely extending beyond three minutes. “Colossus” is two minutes longer than the studio version and “Rottweiler” is double the length, lasting over ten minutes. “Exeter” and “White Privilege” equally impress with extended versions”.

Whilst Live at Bataclan is a superb attempt; one cannot relive this live experience via a recording in its entirety. Nonetheless, a live recording at The Bataclan post-November 2015 by a prolific band like Idles is sacrosanct.  In November 2015, Nick Alexander (along with 88 others) was killed in a terrorist attack on this venue whilst he was working as the merchandise manager for the Eagles of Death Metal (Joshua Homme, Nick Hughes). Seeing Idles at The Bataclan must have truly been an experience of “Joy as an Act of Resistance” against hate and divisions within society and reliving this live experience through this release continues this pious resistance.

As Idles fan base grows, it will be even more difficult for them to play venues such as The Bataclan that has a 1,500 capacity. In fact, it seems increasingly impossible to see the Idles at all – all of their 2020 dates have all now sold out.

 

 

 

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