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Album review: Idles - A Beautiful Thing: Idles Live At Le Bataclan

PUBLISHED: 10:46 11 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:46 11 December 2019

Idles Album cover

Idles Album cover

Archant

A live recording that captures the band's urgent, witty, utterly compelling punk-rock energy.

Last week, just eight months after taking the Electric Ballroom by storm for a three-night residency, Idles played at the iconic Ally Pally - a sure sign of their meteoric rise this year on the back of Mercury-nominated and Ivor Novello-winning second LP Joy As An Act Of Resistance.

It also marked a decade since frontman Joe Talbot and his four mates decided to make a go of it in Bristol, building and refining a brutal, punk-rock aesthetic that drives home Talbot's intelligent, political and darkly comic couplets.

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"We built this album and we built this tour on love and compassion," he tells the Parisian audience in his trademark hoary voice. "Whatever you do tonight if you're in this crowd, you look after each other. Show each other how much you love live music, not aggression, but love and compassion, comprends? Let's f****n' go!" There was no better place to deliver that message than Le Bataclan, the site of an horrific terror attack just four years ago.

It's also incredibly atmospheric; this record puts the listener right in the heart of the crowd with all its sweat and love fizzing and popping off the walls; the band are also as razor-sharp as you'd expect from almost two years on the road.

The entire 19-song set is captured in all its spittle-flecked glory, from the predatory, gloaming version of Colossus which opens the concert, its beat slowed to a thrillingly dark skulk, through the party-punk chorus of Danny Nedelko which nearly takes the roof off as fans shout the lyrics back, to the highly enjoyable call-and-response of White Privilege from their debut Brutalism and the wry, funeral-based lyrics of the thunderous Gram Rock. Despite their exhausting touring schedule, this is as close as many fans will get to the live experience. A Beautiful Thing is a thrilling, visceral stop-gap ahead of a new album next year, capturing a band at the end of one long and cathartic journey, readying themselves for the next.

4/5 stars

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