Idles: Unity Works, Wakefield

No longer the newest independent live music venue in town, Wakefield’s Unity Works has now firmly established it’s reputation as one of the most credible venues in West Yorkshire. This reputation was further enhanced by the appearance of Idles, only days after being featured as “Album Of The Day” on BBC 6 Music, with support from The Do’s and Knuckle.

In complete contrast to the pristine and elegantly decorated function room, clearly set up for a wedding, which you had to walk past on the floor below to reach the gig, the night began with the rowdy and casually dressed The Do’s. Performing in their hometown the duo made a thunderous racket, making it seem like there was at least twice as many musicians on stage. Their thumping drums and Funk infused Rock riffs brought back memories of early The Black Keys material. While the instrumentation might sound reminiscent of The Black Keys the vocals sound nothing like them, their lead singer has a physical resemblance to The Proclaimers but his vocals are much more in the mould of Brian Molko.

Then it was the turn of Huddersfield based three-piece Knuckle. With a vaguely similar sound to The Do’s, Knuckle were real showmen and evidenced how to make a minimalist approach fill a room and sound huge. It was a pleasure to watch as Knuckle started of a trend of genuinely enjoying themselves on stage, a trend which continued until the conclusion of the headliners set. Lead singer Jonny Firth was in fine form, expertly showcasing his varied range and delighting the crowd with his cheeky northern showmanship. The audience revelled in their riotous set, especially during new track “Susie”, and there seemed to be an air of disappointment when the crowd realised that their set had come to an end.

It was then time for BBC 6 Music favourites Idles, their debut album “Brutalism” had only been released a week or so prior to this gig and the were greeted by an incredibly eager audience. From the moment they arrive the juxtaposition within lead singer Joe Talbot is fascinating, just like as in his lyrics his persona also possesses a mix of menacing aggression and jovial high jinx. He has a similar physical demeanour to that of Sleaford Mods singer Jason Williamson as he paces up and down the stage, and he delivers his more poignant lines with real angst. On several occasions he throws his head back and shoots a mist of spit up into the air, which then cascades down over his own face. Between tracks he is jokey and has a thoroughly likeable charisma.

In my opinion “Brutalism” has been one of the gems of the year and seeing it performed almost in it’s entirety resulted in a set which built in intensity and didn’t dip at any point. Idles were fantastic from start to finish, the energy emitted from the stage was phenomenal and was reciprocated by the crowd. As expected the highlight included “Well Done”, where Talbot changed every “well done” to “Wakefield”, “Stendhal Syndrome” and “Mother”. During the final track Talbot invited the fans to invade the stage only for him to then disappear, he returned a moment later but only to film it on his phone whilst laughing, leaving the rest of the band to thrash out an instrumental as passionate fans jumped around amongst them.