If there were any doubt about IDLES’ intentions as they bounded on stage at Bestival this afternoon, they’re swiftly answered inside 30 seconds. Guitarist Mark Bowen hops over his bandmates in the most tattooed obstacle course of all time. Joe Talbot does laps of the backstage area in between verses, all before opener ‘Heel/Heal’ properly kicks in.
The band’s set today is one equally devoted to compassion and togetherness as it is unadulterated fun. “We are a middle class Sleaford Mods tribute band leaning on the success of Slaves,” Joe deadpans, in the gaps between songs written about grief, toxic masculinity and (“what’s left of”) the NHS.
In the band’s 45 minutes on stage, the atmosphere in the cavernous main arena is transformed; they emerge on stage to a cagey crowd easing their way into the early evening, and leave to a group of fifty or so jubilant bodies, arm in arm, bobbing in a circle while singing a song about “how reading The Sun will give you cancer”. That’s the growing power of the band.
Songs from upcoming second LP ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ push the band’s sound - and community-led ethos - to its extremes, Joe stating his love for immigrants before recent single ‘Danny Nedelko’ and unashamedly championing openness when talking about love in ‘Love Song’.
“Too many men, too many many men,” he barks at a bolshy mosh pit towards the end of the set, a simultaneously hilarious and wonderfully important announcement into the amassed throng. “Girls, get in the pit - destroy that shit.”
A furious rendition of ‘Rottweiler’ closes the set, after a pair of fans are brought on stage to shred their way through the jubilant ‘Exeter’, and IDLES leave Bestival feeling a little more united a festival than when they arrived.
In Joe’s own words: “Not bad for a bunch of fuckin’ snowflakes, eh?”