Review: IDLES – A Beautiful Thing (Live at Le Bataclan)

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Monumental

This unmissable live album shows Idles at their very best, and raises their powerful music to brand new heights.

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On Friday 6th December, kings of punk IDLES will release their first live album, A Beautiful Thing, recorded live at Le Bataclan in Paris almost exactly a year ago.  The 19-song record takes us through their electric career, and elevates their music to new and unstoppable heights.

I’m not here to tell you that IDLES make good music.  The whole world knows that by now and music critics have said it a million different ways.  There’s no doubt that they’re one of the greatest alternative bands we have in the scene at the moment.  But a live album is something we haven’t heard from them yet, and there’s only really one way to describe it: monumental.

A Beautiful Thing opens on ‘Colossus’ from their 2018 album Joy As An Act of Resistance, a popular choice to kick off an IDLES show.  The live version takes on a life of its own, slowed down and stretched out to become a 7-minute epic that builds up and up until its descent into chaos; you can feel the pit being formed as you listen to this larger-than-life performance.  It’s broken up by frontman Joe Talbot’s address of love and positivity to an adoring crowd: telling us to look after each other, to come together in music instead of aggression.  This speech is exactly what you would expect from an IDLES gig, and a perfect gem to include on the recording.

But there’s no time to catch your breath, as they leap straight into ‘Never Fight a Man with a Perm’.  This one was always going to be a hit live, and the raw energy coming from both the band and the audience can be felt here.  This song demonstrates the expert recording that went into A Beautiful Thing that allowed them to catch the heavy vibrancy of the guitars and the sheer emotion in Talbot’s vocals that really shine here.

Each song is one triumph after another; ‘Mother’, ‘Danny Nedelko’ and ‘I’m Scum’ are the obvious fan favourites, and while their performance is the clear focus of the record you can hear just enough of the crowd’s excitement to catch the real feeling of an IDLES gig – after all, the band have always put their fans first.  Songs are introduced with Joe Talbot’s admirable French and the band’s interaction with the fans.  There’s a lot of love goes into their music and their performances, which is perfectly reflected in the record.

In ‘Exeter’, fans join them on stage to scream lyrics along with the band.  A Beautiful Thing allows listeners who may not otherwise have the chance to get in on the unique experience of hearing Idles live.  And it’s magical.

‘Exeter’ is the beginning of the end of the setlist, bringing a triumphant close to the record along with ‘Cry To Me’, ‘Well Done’ and the 10-minute journey that is ‘Rottweiler’.  It shows all of the passion that Idles put into their music, and the final chaotic breakdown ends the night on a high.

The indisputable fact is that this is one of the best live albums you will hear.  For fans who have been lucky enough to get to one of their shows, this will bring you right back to the electric energy of the crowd and the love that pours from the stage.  For those who haven’t seen the legendary band yet, this is a necessity in your life.  In any case, there’s truly something for everyone– A Beautiful Thing is an unmissable album.

Idles’ A Beautiful Thing – Live at Le Bataclan will be released December 6th via Partisan Records.

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Records Editor 2019/2020. Second year French and Spanish student. Always going through some kind of music-based phase, frequently crying about The Cure.

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