IDLES live at Glastonbury 2022: an effortless exercise in how to level up

The Bristol five-piece follow up their momentous 2019 Park performance with passion, poignancy and a very fun Beatles cover on The Other Stage

IDLES’ last visit to Glastonbury has since gone down as an “I was there” moment in the legendary festival’s storied history. Playing to a sea of sun-baked faces on The Park Stage in 2019, frontman Joe Talbot openly wept happy tears on stage as guitarist Mark Bowen, performing in just his boxers and a pair of shoes, leapt into the crowd to lead the ecstatic finale of pro-immigration anthem ‘Danny Nedelko’ – the rapturous reception that greeted that glorious moment of catharsis probably could’ve been heard all the way up in Shepton Mallet.

That set took place while the Bristol punks were riding the crest of a wave; their breakthrough 2018 album ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ finally elevated the five-piece’s status from beloved cult band to main stage headliner contenders. Since then, two further LPs – 2020’s ‘Ultra Mono’ and November’s ‘Crawler’ – have arrived, and they’ve been welcomed back to Worthy Farm with open arms this year for a fittingly major slot on The Other Stage.

As in 2019, they kick off this evening’s set (June 24) with ‘Joy…”s menacing opening track ‘Colossus’; a passionately pumped-up Talbot parting the crowd in the pause before the song’s searing second act, during which guitarist Lee Kiernan leaps into the front row (see pic below). Jon Beavis then hammers the living daylights out of his drums on follower ‘Car Crash’ as Talbot literally punches himself in the face mid-verse and the band’s guest sax player Colin Webster plays like his life depends on it: are you watching, Emily Eavis?

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IDLES
IDLES at Glastonbury 2022 (Picture: Phoebe Fox for NME)

Talbot poignantly address the throngs of people gathered in the gloomy, Friday evening drizzle on a number of occasions, speaking out against today’s utterly depressing overturning of Roe v Wade in the US before ‘Mother’ (“Long live the open-minded; long live my mother and long live every single one of you”) and dedicating the solemn ‘A Hymn’ to much-loved Bristol music fan Big Jeff Johns, who is currently receiving treatment in hospital after he was “very seriously injured” in a recent house fire.

The frontman also takes a mid-gig moment to look back on the COVID-affected past few years (“We’ve all been through something, and we’ve come out of the other side with gratitude, love and empathy for our fellow humans”) and the band’s years of toiling and graft.

“We are so fucking grateful that you have carried us over the past 12 years, and we are so grateful to come back to this place, see all you people and experience the energy that can only be described as love,” he says before adding “shall we?” as ‘Danny Nedelko’ cracks into life. It’s another special moment (Talbot alters one lyric to “my best friend is a Ukrainian“, to the delight of the dancing punters), though Bowen fares less well than he did in 2019 crowdsurfing-wise: this time, he’s sucked into the mosh and his mic gets disconnected, leaving the guitarist seeming frustrated when he eventually clambers back on stage.

IDLES Glastonbury
IDLES at Glastonbury 2022 (Picture: Phoebe Fox for NME)

Smiles are restored, though, as IDLES invite singer-songwriter Willie J Healey on stage to do a bit of a karaoke hat-tip to tomorrow’s Pyramid Stage headliner Paul McCartney with a giddy cover of The Beatles‘ ‘All You Need Is Love’. They threaten to run over their allotted stage time, manic closer ‘Rottweiler’ abridged as Talbot declares this gig to be “one of the most important and beautiful moments of our lives… you make us feel loved”. Glastonbury certainly loves IDLES. Could the Pyramid beckon the next time they descend on Worthy Farm? They’ve certainly done their chances of landing an even bigger slot in the future no harm today.

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IDLES played:

‘Colossus’

‘Car Crash’

‘Mr. Motivator’

‘Mother’

‘Divide and Conquer’

‘The Beachland Ballroom’

‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’

‘Crawl!’

‘A Hymn’

‘The Wheel’

‘Danny Nedelko’

‘All You Need Is Love’ (The Beatles cover with Willie J Healey)

‘Rottweiler’

Check back at NME here throughout the weekend for the latest news, reviews, interviews, photos and more from Glastonbury 2022.

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