Every time a new season of Later… with Jools Holland rolls around, all eyes are on one performance. They’re picked out as soon as each line-up is announced – ‘that’ll be a moment’, the powers that be declare. Usually it’s an outsider bet – a group who’ve risen up the ranks through word of mouth, getting their national TV big break. At The Drive-In’s run-in with Robbie Williams was one; Arctic Monkeys’ first appearance (like all of their firsts) was another. The Libertines’ deliciously sketchy run-through of ‘Up The Bracket’ is an intrinsic part of British indie lore; Kanye West’s every appearance on the show is similarly iconic. Last night, however, IDLES may well have snatched the crown.
Appearing on the boogie-woogie man’s musical emporium amidst a surge in interest, and off the back of a Top 5 chart placing for their incredible new album ‘Joy as An Act Of Resistance’, IDLES seized the opportunity, and left a lasting mark on anyone who witnessed it. Cacophonous and chaotic, batshit but brilliant, it was a run-through of pro-immigration anthem ‘Danny Nedelko’ that felt like history in the making.
IDLES’ reputation as an incomparable live act has been long-established, but last night they went one step further. Off the back of their Jools Holland appearance, they’ve made their bid for legendary status. Outsiders though they may be, by now you’d be a fool to bet against it. Below, we’ve rounded up the very best bits from an incomparably brilliant performance.
Before the first screech of blown-out, delay pedalled feedback has even decayed, guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Keirnan are squaring up, writhing around each other like snakes waiting to strike. As the camera focuses on Kiernan’s grinning face, there’s a devilish glint in his eye – a knowing nod to the chaos that’s to come.
The piano invasions
Less than 45-seconds in, Kiernan’s already legged it off-stage, careering into Jools Holland’s grand piano and rolling around on top of it, wailing away at his guitar. Jools himself is there, beaming away and whacking the keys. It’s quite sweet, really. That piano accompaniment comes back as the track surges towards its end, too, with Bowen later booting Jools off the stool, and tinkling the ivories himself.
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The gang vocals
IDLES’ sound is built on the audible unity of their roared gang vocals, ‘Danny Nedelko’ especially. Live, everyone in the room joins in with each call to arms, which begged the question – could they pull it off in the decidedly more controlled environs of a TV studio? We needn’t have worried. Like they’re summoning Lucifer himself, every member of the band belts out ‘Danny Nedelko’’s pro-diversity chorus, sounding like they could fill a stadium with just the five of them.
- Read more: The Big Read – Idles: “Music and unity, community, love and mindfulness will help you get over anything”
The lack of respect for stage managers
At any given time, at least one member of IDLES is off running around the studio, guitar or mic stand held aloft, like an excitable kid after one too many Fruit Winders. What’s more, they barely even stick to their allotted instrument, Bowen snatching his microphone off the stand during the first chorus, leaving his guitar to wobble around his ankles as he plays frontman. Given the clockwork running of a show like Jools, it’s a wonder to behold. They’re a stage manager’s worst nightmare, to be honest.
Listen to frontman Joe Talbot at the two minute 50 second mark. He’s just looked over and seen his bandmate whacking a piano with Jools fucking Holland. Listen to that little giggle. It’s a wonder he managed to keep it together, in fairness.
Look, no matter how punk you may be, sometimes the rules don’t need to be broken. IDLES is for the children, after all. Given this is the BBC, Talbot had to be a little creative with the spelled-out ‘F-U-C-K-Y-O-U’ in ‘Danny Nedelko’’s middle-eight. His solution? “The blank. The blank. The blank. The blank.” Genius.
The fact it’s seriously divided opinion
Of course, any song that’s as noisy, unapologetic and pro-immigration as ‘Danny Nedelko’ is going to rustle some feathers. Stick it on primetime TV, and it’s gonna send the whole chicken coop doolally. “Perhaps the worst sounding noise I’ve ever heard from a band tonight on Jools Holland’s Later – The Idles – Truly appalling,” wrote estate agent Michael Stephen Day on Twitter shortly after having his mind melted out of his bumhole. Another Twitter user summed it up far better: “IDLES performance on Jools Holland having brexit da’s and stone island football lads fumin has made my day.”
It’s IDLES’ own tweeted reaction – delivered, as ever, in the form of a haiku – that wraps everything up best, though: “And then just like that / It’s over in a heartbeat / A dream is fulfilled.”