The Idle Race

My ability to capture generally irrational thoughts and turn them into blog posts or reviews is largely based on harnessing my natural outrage and funnelling it into righteous anger or exasperated humour.

In the past few years this has become harder, principally through pressures of time and the vast quantity of people doing the same thing, often better than I could. Therefore, I have no need or purpose.

This said, words have a purpose and sometimes I can’t help but spill them out. Sometimes an event will provoke a spillage, sometimes a song, sometimes a gig. In this case it is all three.

I went to see Idles last week in Birmingham. I had looked forward to it for a while, not always the case with my gig going of late. I have the desire but not the will and am too frequently disappointed by the outcome. Either some acts and promoters are not trying hard enough or I expect too much.

Idles tick a lot of boxes for me: aggressive but tuneful and with playful incisive lyrics, though I don’t imagine many people think of them as playful. Barring a late challenge, Danny Nedelko is my track of the year with its passionate and timely defence of immigration infused by jarring, danceable rhythms. 

It was another song that hit the spot live, it was Scum. When you look at the band and their audience, at how they’ve built their following with incendiary shows and a like-minded online community, you can tell they feel and mean every word of Scum.

On reflection and after multiple consecutive plays, I’m not sure there’s a better lyric to scream along to than ‘This snowflake is an avalanche’. On social media we’re all too quick to anger. The intelligent inflame the ignorant into fascist rhetoric and we burn people down without listening but ‘this snowflake….’

Chuck D once said that rap is ‘black America’s CNN’. Perhaps punk fulfils the same function for the white working classes. As another commentator recently said ‘It is not that people are consuming fake news, but that we can’t reach them with the real news!’

Maybe the working classes will never revolt; maybe they’ll never understand who the real enemy is. The evidence suggests that they’re easily downtrodden and pacified, too ready to fight amongst themselves. As ‘Scum’ says, ‘we don’t need another murderous toff, I’m just wondering where the high streets gone’. Idles prove that guitar music can thrive, that punk isn’t dead. Watch this space and don’t turn your back on the working class.