While making their own Glastonbury debut, Idles singer Joe Talbot told a packed audience at The Park Stage that the band’s pro-immigration anthem ‘Danny Nedelko’ was written after seeing PJ Harvey read John Donne’s poem ‘No Man Is An Island’ at Glastonbury 2016.
The band’s thundering set opened with ‘Colossus’, which built slowly with increasing menace until the outbreak of a mosh pit was inevitable. “There’s a circle forming,” observed Talbot, “The radius is only men. If there are no women in the circle it is not a circle, but a phallus.”
Second song ‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’ upped the tempo, before Talbot took a moment to describe just how much playing Glastonbury meant to the Bristol band. “This it’s one of the most magnificent moments of our lives,” he said. “We’ve waited 12 years to play here. This is the best place on earth. I’ve stood where you are and cried to Thom Yorke, Battles, The Horrors. They changed my life, and I hope in some way we can change yours.”
He continued by dedicating ‘Mother’ to his wife Elizabeth, who was side of stage, and paying tribute to all mothers for the sacrifices they make for their children. Before ‘1049 Gotho’, he once again spoke about how important Glastonbury festival has been in his own life. “I spent a long time feeling lonely and depressed and a drug addict and an alcoholic,” he said, “But I’d come here and feel like I was part of something bigger than myself.”
While the performance was clearly an emotional one for the band, there were moments of levity too. Guitarist Mark Bowen was, as usual, wearing just his underwear – and he joined Talbot on vocals as they interpolated the choruses of Sheryl Crow’s ‘All I Wanna Do’, Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’, Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ and Harry Styles’ ‘Sign Of The Times’ into the middle of their own ‘Love Song’.
Before mentioning how seeing PJ Harvey read Donne’s ‘No Man Is An Island’ on the Other Stage three years ago led to him writing ‘Danny Nedelko’, he described it as a song about “one of the most beautiful parts of this country: the foreigners.” The song provoked the show’s biggest singalong, of the lyric: “Fear leads to panic, panic leads to pain, pain leads to anger, anger leads to hate…”
When the song finished, Talbot looked overwhelmed at the reception. His wife Elizabeth ran onstage to hug him, their daughter in a pouch on her front. “That was my wife, she’s a nurse in the NHS,” he said after she’d left. “And my daughter.”
They closed the set with thumping versions of ‘Samaritans’ and ‘Rottweiler’, and when Talbot said: “I say this without any bullshit, I’ve waited my whole fucking life for this moment,” you’d have to have been mad to doubt his sincerity. Bowen finished the show running around the stage as if he’d just scored the winning goal in a World Cup Final. Glastonbury have found their new Idols.
‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’
‘Faith in the City’
‘Divide and Conquer’