The Idles review: Anti-King Charles chants, anger over chilly atmosphere fires up Auckland gig

The Idles review: Anti-King Charles chants, anger over chilly atmosphere fires up Auckland gig

REVIEW: It may have been a frigid Friday night in Auckland, but for the gathered fans at Spark Arena, the anticipation was electrifying for formidable UK rock band, Idles.

With their gritty and sincere sounds, the band took the audience on a push-pull journey, igniting their spirits while battling the mid-winter chill, punctuating the show with demands to "turn that f**king aircon off or I'll shit in every f**king bin in this building."

Returning to the stage after a packed-out and hotly anticipated performance at Auckland's Town Hall less than a year ago, Joe Talbot (vocals), Mark Bowen (guitar), Lee Kiernan (guitar), Adam Devonshire (bass), and Jon Beavis (drums) were back for Elemental Nights, a winter concert lineup featuring Kiwi and international artists at iconic venues across the city.

Though the venue suggested a packed-out stadium, the set was more intimate with the stalls closed off, creating a club-like atmosphere that drew fans to the floor, helping them to embrace the band's raw energy.

Amid red lights and a smoky haze, Idles' return to the live scene made for an electric atmosphere - something further accentuated as they kicked off with the spine-chilling notes of 'Colossus'. 

The marching, heavy start built suspense before exploding into a wave of powerful guitars and ferocity that gripped the audience for the entire show.

After a friction-laden opener, Talbot parted the audience like the Red Sea: "Are you ready to collide?" he bellows. "Are you ready to love?"

The juxtaposition of aggression and vulnerability may be bizarre in any other context, but it sums up the Idles perfectly. Their music is an unapologetic exorcism of personal demons, embracing a chest-pounding honesty that resonates with their dedicated fans. 

The band then fearlessly dived into gritty, pulsing tracks like 'Car Crash', 'Mother', and 'Meds', leaving the crowd immersed in the visceral emotions and echoing choruses. 

Amidst the crowd's mandatory beer-soaked bellowings of "the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich," the Idles' political messages found their voice.

But they're not ones to shy away from bold statements. 

Talbot used his platform to address societal issues, mocking the class system with the tongue-in-cheek 'I'm Scum'. Once again, the group engaged the audience by leading an anti-monarchist chant.

"As a byproduct of our disgusting empire, I know you'll want to join in on this."

Talbot ordered the entire stadium, the band included, to sit down and join his chant: "F**ck the King", before bounding back to the chaos. 

While the expletives flew, it was clear that these expressions were about solidarity and protest, uniting the crowd in a rebellious and memorable moment.

Yet, despite the intensity from the crowd, a hint of disappointment lingered in the band. 

Idles wanted to sweat, they wanted to feel our energy, but whether it was a lack of body heat or really just fierce aircon, it wasn't enough to keep them warm. 

As the night progressed, the band's softer side emerged. Touching on his struggle with addiction, Talbot admitted when he was last in Auckland, he was in a bad place and "married to drugs", something he isn't scared to talk openly about. 

Back on the straight and narrow, he thanked his fans and bandmates for carrying him through before leading into 'The Wheel'.

The emotional connection deepened, and the crowd responded with empathy and understanding, creating an atmosphere of shared camaraderie. The unguarded emotion was further enhanced by the likes of '1049 Gotho' and 'Love Song'.

Their performance was admittedly predictable, but unexpected moments were sprinkled in as they playfully segued into caterwauling renditions of Christina Aguilera's 'Beautiful' and Frozen's 'Let It Go' among many others. During the karaoke moments, Kiernan made his way into the crowd once more.

Always one for a lark, Talbot ordered everyone to try and get the rogue guitarist with cries of: "bonus points if you get one of his shoes". 

The night reached its climax with vigorous fan favourites like 'Never Fight a Man with a Perm' and 'Danny Nedelko', an anthem celebrating immigration. The passion and unity in the room were palpable as the fans echoed the lyrics back to the stage.

Closing on the "antifascist song for antifascist folk", 'Rottweiler' got everyone up into one last heave before the lights came up. 

Idles' Elemental Nights performance at Spark Arena proved to be an unforgettable experience, with their unyielding passion and poignant lyrics leaving an indelible mark on everyone present.

Despite battling the chill, the band's fiery spirit, raw emotions, and unwavering dedication to their craft warmed the hearts of their ardent fans. As the crowd dispersed into the cold night, they carried with them the memories of an extraordinary concert, leaving behind a carpet of plastic cups and the echo of Idles' powerful messages.