Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 11.12.47Last night IDLES were on Jools Holland or Later or whatever everyone calls it.

It was one of those moments – like the New York Dolls on the Whistle Test – ‘mock rock’! , Sex Pistols on Bill Grundy – ‘ooh not only did they swear but the looked alien and unafraid and didn’t grovel’, Sleaford Mods on Later ‘ ‘what!!! he doesn’t even play a guitar – what is this sacrilege’  – a moment when the battle lines are drawn, a moment when something that is so full of vibrancy and life that it cannot be tamed or controlled, something just explodes into life on the TV amplifying its incandescent emotional rush and its purity.


IDLES was that moment – of course, we all missed it at LTW because we were out and about watching gigs – I was at the fantastic Nightingales gig in Manchester.  Like many people who are deeply in love with the high octane of music I find rare TV moments – rarely does anything get through that electrifies you.  Credit to Later for sticking IDLES in all their gonzoid glory into the middle of their show. It was certainly a moment. A moment to applaud.

There is so little music on TV that you feel sympathy for the bookers at Later. They somehow have to squash everything into one show. Their ‘world music’ is always great but  you get the feeling the audience want it so timid and dull and boring. IDLES are a poke in the eye in this context – they are like the punk groups who would run amok on Top Of The Pops in our monochromatic youth. Music TV is Later or the Brit Awards or the Mercury Awards where we get to see really rich people in London sit around at tables they have paid thousands of pounds for to get their annual connection with a music event- these people never go to gigs or damp rehearsal rooms. They are not part of the electricity. They are imposters. They are Charlie Caviare.

The BBC does great documentaries and it’s cool to have the past tidied up and explained. I do it myself. But, like most of the readers here, I’m also in a rush to get to the future. What we are certainly not like is the curmudgeonly old men who have today on Facebook and Twitter typing out mean-spirited missives about IDLES becuade they turned up and threatened their stuffy status quo.

You can see them all sat there smug on their comfy hi fi homes watching Later and waiting for some ‘rock legend’ to plod through some old hit or another dose of ‘proper music’ from ‘proper musicians’ – white middle-aged men who spent their youth learning scales on guitars which they have replicated forever with no love instead of grabbing whatever musical equipment came to hand and grabbing the electricity of the moment, embracing the emotional rush with their own musical ideas. These ‘proper musicians’  have never innovated, they just copied and these middle aged fan-men embrace them as they arrange their box sets in alphabetical order and talk about music like it’s a collection of antiques.


IDLES crashed headlong into this complacent world and the reaction was beautiful.

These snowflakes are an avalanche…

Previous articleTim Hecker: Konoyo – album review
Next articleThe Nightingales: Perish The Thought – Album Review
Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Couldn’t agree more John.

    I watched last night as Idles tore it up. The look of nervousness on Jools face as his beloved piano seemed albeit briefly, vulnerable was a moment to savour. As the camera panned over to Jools he went from appearing nervous to having that look that to me must have reminded him of what it was possibly once like when he was in Squeeze doing ‘Cool for Cats.’

    This was Cool for music fans who want a bit more than a solo singer with an acoustic guitar doing twiddly Dee and Twiddly Da.

    Well done Idles and the BBC later team for taking a chance. Now we would like to see membranes, Evil Blizzard, ILL, Sweet Deals On Surgery, Glove and a host of other great bands creating music worthy of a TV show we are all crying out for.

  2. Hey Gary, stop dissing middle aged people, I’m 61 and I loved it. Reminded me a little of Sham 69 in their glory days. But you’re right, ‘Later…’ definitely needs more punk and metal.


  3. I also loved seeing Jools nervous face, I don’t know if you’ve seen him interviewing Jello Biafra but it confirmed for me what I always thought, that Jools Holland is a prick

  4. Damn right john. They absolutely blew the doors off. With respect to the other bands IDLES just delivered the knock out punch. The most exciting live band I’ve seen for many years. Best album I’ve listened to in a decade. Vibrant , to the point, they capture the moid of many. Cant wait to see them tear up the q awards and lay down gauntlet to Wolf Alice followed by their london gig the day after. A hard working bunch of chaps and the nicest bunch of blokes

  5. I had not watched the programme for years as it did not reflect music as I knew it or wanted to hear but I had to tune in for the Idles and I was not disappointed it showed the comfy corporate niceness up for the empty ‘safety’ it is. It has been a long time since I got that ‘oh shit what is going to happen next’ feeling. The two Idles albums are the best things I have heard in ages, I am 62 and I still want some danger in my music

  6. They seemed to show a different version on the Saturday night repeat, without the piano abuse. To be fair Shame give the place a bit of a kicking up its complacent arse as well earlier on this year

  7. I am 60 and I still go and watch punk bands old and new. I don’t want to be listening to Dire Straits, U2 and the rest of that nonsense. I want to hear and see bands that make you want to leap about even if you cannot manage it for a whole set anymore!!

  8. I am 102 and I thought they were the bees knees. Best band since Bill Halley and the Comets. I almost got an erection.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here