Lockdown has been tough for everybody, but especially those who devote themselves to live music. The constant battle between wanting to buy tickets for upcoming events and fearing them getting cancelled has been hard, the never ending social media reminders that you ‘have an event coming up today!’ are like rubbing salt into wounds. This past weekend, IDLES played 3 ‘lock in’ sessions at the iconic Abbey Road studios, attempting to quench fans’ thirst for live music.
The 3 sessions had entirely different setlists, with the setlist for each show being published days before the sessions. They were then professionally recorded and live streamed to fans exclusively, if they had a ticket. The streams started at 9pm BST on Saturday, the second at 11.45pm and the final of the 3 taking place on Sunday at 12pm.
Even before IDLES had come on ‘stage’, the live chat was a light with thousands of adoring fans, if your imagination worked hard enough, it was almost as electric as the adrenaline rush of waiting for them at a ‘real’ gig.
The first set began with IDLES bursting to life with ‘Heel/Heal’, feeding fans what they have been craving so badly. ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ followed, a brutal performance that felt as if it had every viewer in the palm of Joe Talbot’s hand. “Only semi professional for life” he joked as he messed up the lyrics of ‘Stendhal Syndrome’, forcing the band to start over. However, this seemed to make the performance appear more raw, and more like what you’d expect from a gig.
Viewers were promised covers over each of the three sets, and the first one saw the band cover ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ by The Ramones, a dark, crooning cover of a classic, carried by the tones of Adam Devonshire’s bass. The sets that followed saw IDLES cover The Strokes’ ‘Reptilia’, rowdy, raucous and ultimately, unexpected, and The Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter’, with the added twist of Placebo’s ‘Pure Morning’. All 3 bought something unique and wacky to the streams, and they didn’t disappoint.
It was evident that the nerves weren’t getting on top of the band, Set 2 and Set 3 saw IDLES return more triumphant than ever. Taking pauses to thank the AF Gang (their fanbase), for all of their love, blasting out ‘Mother’, with it’s message being more prominent than ever.
IDLES’ lock in sessions also saw them give fans the first glimpse of their new album, Ultra Mono., to be released September 25th. The band gave previous singles, ‘Mr Motivator’, ‘Grounds’, ‘A Hymn’ and ‘Model Village’ their live debuts, and debuting ‘Kill Them With Kindness’. This made it clear to see that IDLES’ return is going to see them more powerful than ever.
‘Did you hear that thunder?’, if so, it was probably the sound of IDLES’ stomping live come back. The band had the ability to make a live stream feel (almost) as good as the real deal, with the live chat full of fans shouting their praises. Guitars were left shattered into pieces as IDLES made their first steps back into some form of normality.