IDLES: Tempodrom, Berlin – live review

Tempodrom, Berlin
April 29th 2022

After a couple of album releases, a postponement or two and a change of venue, IDLES finally bring their energetic and high octane show to Berlin for a sold out night at Tempodrom. LTW’s Nick O’Leary reports back.

Surrounded by vertical LED lamps that give off a warm glow and, strangely, create a somewhat intimate and cosy atmosphere on the large, cold stage, IDLES unassumingly step into view. A quietness befalls the venue as the crowd’s mumbling comes to an end and the spectators wait with anticipation.

With the stage officially set, the marching beat of Colossus, the opening track for the group’s second record Joy As An Act Of Resistance, plays out through the speakers. The atmosphere becomes a little edgy. Beers are finished and pockets secured before fans make their routine pilgrimage to the front and centre in preparation for the onslaught of flailing limbs. While some, now realising exactly what they find themselves amidst, retreat to the safety of the back.

With the intensity of the track growing, frontman Joe Talbot marches around on stage, nervously walking back and forth like an angsty teenager about to explode with rage. As the track comes to its abrupt false ending, the crowd hold their breath before a curt “1, 2, 3, 4” is the signal for the carnage to ensue – and the fans willingly obey.

IDLES: Tempodrom, Berlin – live review

After the song, the band takes a minute or two to greet the crowd before Talbot steps forward, leering over the baying fans and splitting them into two factions, left and right. His words, “are you ready to collide?” are met with a large roar before clarifying “but are you ready to look after each other?”. The sentiment within these two sentences is something that you can use to define the band and their music – a rowdy bunch of Bristolians who harbour feelings of genuine and earnest kindness.

With 2 new albums since their last European tour, the band have plenty of tracks to play through. The set is largely a mix of songs from their latest two records Mono and Crawler, but they do throw in a few guaranteed crowd-pleasers like Mother and, what just might be considered a modern classic by many fans, Never Fight A Man With A Perm.

IDLES: Tempodrom, Berlin – live review

The whole night is a carefully orchestrated affair by the band. The crowd, which certainly has an edge, always feel like it’s teetering on the edge of absolute anarchy. But the band are always in control.

At around the half an hour mark, somewhere around Crawl, fans begin to spill out of the pit, searching for salvation at either side of the venue (and maybe in another pint of beer) before taking a deep breath and entering again with a running start. Somewhere amongst the chaos, guitarist Mark Bowen finds himself in the crowd during the track Love Song. While being hoisted up into the air like a deity with worshippers at their feet and with mic in hand, suddenly, the lyrics to Nothing Compares 2 U and My Heart Will Go Out are coming out of his mouth and being squeezed into the song.

IDLES: Tempodrom, Berlin – live review

A test for an upcoming BBC Live Lounge cover? Let’s hope not because it sounded fucking awful. But hell, it’s just a bit of fun. Towards the end, there’s a double hitter with the tracks I’m Scum and Danny Nedelko while the crowd, who show no sign of tiring, thrash about before the show comes to an end with Rottweiler, which just so happens to be the closing track from Joy As An Act Of Resistance.

It may have been a while since IDLES took to the stage in Europe, but there were certainly no signs of lack of practice. Tempodrom is a relatively big venue and playing loud and hard does not guarantee a good show here. Bands can easily shrink and become lost in the large, circular tent and end up leaving fans underwhelmed. But tonight was not one of those nights.

This night will live long in the memories of those in the crowd.

IDLES: Tempodrom, Berlin – live review

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Words © Nick O’Leary. Find more of Nick’s writing at his author’s archive.

All photography © Svenja Block. You can find more of Svenja’s work at her Linktree , and at her Louder Than War author’s archive .

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  1. “This night will live long in the memories of those in the crowd.”
    Oh it surely will be, it definitely will be


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