A triumphant show at a venue singer Joe Talbot described as 'the best feeling room' he'd ever played
Robert Ham
16:48 8th October 2018

05 October: By any measure, the sweaty, dauntless performance by Idles at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Oregon felt like a typical punk show. The packed venue was heaving with bodies and energy, with the majority of the sold out crowd shouting along with every song in the two hour set. Or the audience was smack in the middle of the quintet from Bristol, diving back into the audience and, as the group tore through an agonized version of ‘Exeter’ from their 2017 debut Brutalism, joining in the sonic fray as the band members willingly handed their instruments to the folks they had pulled onstage.

So much else about the night went against the grain of the usual experience of watching five men making a guitar-driven racket in a club on a Friday night. Vocalist Joe Talbot struck a tone of moderation to the shout of “Fuck Theresa May,” reminding us to hate the policies and not the person. He did remind his Portland fans that UKIP are a ‘bunch of cunts’ later on.

And the eve of the confirmation of one of the most divisive Supreme Court picks in ages, Idles were determined to call a lie to typical expressions of masculinity. They gave each other full lipped kisses and sticky hugs when they weren’t singing the unapologetically starry-eyed ‘Love Song’ (‘I want to be your forever best friend’) or their smoldering cover of Solomon Burke’s ‘Cry To Me’.

The momentum of the night rarely flagged. It was just waylaid a bit by some visible frustration and audible complaints on the part of Talbot and guitarist Mark Bowen about losing their monitor mix. They powered through and drove straight on to the finish line. Encore? Nope. And thank heavens for that. Any more music would felt like an unnecessary indulgence after that fulfilling and energizing set.

Idles played:

Never Fight A Man With A Perm
Faith In The City
I’m Scum
Love Song
Danny Nedelko
Divide & Conquer
1049 Gotho
Cry To Me
Well Done

Watch fan footage below:

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Photo: Niall Green