Idles At The Sugarmill

UK's Newest Big Breakthrough Band Supported By Immense Local Talent

Bethan Shuff || 10th April

Photography: Bethan Shuff

Wires & Release Review: Lee Barber

Wires. Possibly the most underrated band in Stoke-on-Trent? After a break collecting their thoughts, realigning the band line-up, and creating the most punchy EP of 2017, Wires hit back with a bang and a half, launching into their set with a frighteningly haunting intro, leading straight into their no-nonesense trash punk. Paul Baggaley is a front man like no other in the area; from a personal perspective, I have had the honour of being on stage with Paul, where he broke his guitar, and still somehow turned that into a big show piece finale, jumping into the crowd with guitar swinging around his neck, effects going ape-shit. It's great to see Paul very much still has that no-holds-barred attitude, tearing up the stage of The Sugarmill, more than simply 'warming up the crowd' for Idles, as he smashes into his mic stand knocking it over just as he's about to go into his next verse. Ever the brilliant, energetic front man, he wastes no time in dropping to the floor, lying on his back, singing into the drum mic whilst still playing his dirty guitar riffage.

Racing through songs from their brand new EP Drop Acid And Join A Cult, the strong crowd are all stood telling each other how good this band is 'This is mint, wasn't expecting this for an opener' is just one of the comments I catch from the crowd, clearly loving the gutsy steam-punk rage of Wires. So why the underrated statement? Wires quite obviously know how to put on a show, a truly refreshing show, professional yet reckless, calm yet chaotic. But it's not just that which makes a great band. Wires have a good image, with all three members donning an upside down cross on their heads, creating a strange and ancient religious rebellious atmosphere, which is only backed up by their general stage presence and, image and sound. This imagery carries over into the artwork of Wires. Strange, mysterious, cultish. If Wires are leading the cult, I definitely want in.

And so we come to Release who, having built a stunning fan base which only increased with their recent Best Single Award for The Inevitable, put on a display which leaves literally all of their fans stood in bewilderment on the rooftop of The Sugarmill after their set. After dropping the destined-to-be-classics The Inevitable, Back To The Old Routine and C U Next Time, the loyal fans are amazed by the set, flawless wouldn't even be an understatement, with front man Caleb Allport seeing Paul Baggaley's performance and then raising the stakes, dropping his trademark hip-hop, two-tone hybrid dance moves clad in fancy suit jacket, and jumping into the crowd as they sing back to him the poetic, political lyrics he created. Release are far from the finished article yet, but there is an exciting rush and bluster of hype to these guys telling you to that they are only just getting started, and once they really get going, there will be nothing that can get in their way. An extra word simply must be made about Sam Odgen, who stepped in on drums for Release on this gig. After only being asked three days before the gig, Sam had just one practise with the lads, and was utterly seamless. Hats off to the guy recently announced as the new drummer of Dregs.

Gritty Bristol four-piece Lice were Idles’ main support. Their loud and distorted sound complete with Placebo meets Blink-182 style vocals made the band a perfect match for this punky bill. Dark, moody lighting accompanied the weighty tracks, and strobes accentuated the filthy breakdowns of crashing cymbals and spiralling bass. Frontman Alastair urged the crowd forward ‘come closer, it’s like you’ve all got agoraphobia’ and the crowd came to life, filling the forefront of the dance floor. Both frontman and drummer had become topless, whilst their bassist remained in what now would have been a very sweltering boilersuit and cowboy hat who surprised us all at the end of the set by incorporating a harmonica into one of the tracks. Now, I know what you’re thinking, punk and harmonica? Do they go together? Well Release showed us that violin and punk can work, and Lice have provided us with the knowledge that harmonica and punk also work. You learn something new every day.

Just three days before headlining The Sugarmill, Idles’ album, Brutalism, bagged Album of the Day on BBC 6Music. Idles are a band with fire in their bellies, confidently walking onto the Sugarmill stage; Joe Talbot has a coy smile, as though he knows he’s about to cause havoc and show people something special. Idles make punk accessible with their catchy, gutsy choruses, but stay true to their roots with aggression and relentlessness. There’s thought behind each and every track, whether it be politics in ‘Divide and Conquer’ which is ‘dedicated to the assassination of Jeremy Hunt’, or more personal matters such as Joe’s mothers death in ‘Mother’, nonetheless, each created a storm. Joe laughed ‘I feel like I’m in that scene from Back to the Future where no one knows what’s going on… your kids will love it’ he laughed as he introduced the next song. An enthralling, empowering, rebellious set from Idles left the crowd bewildered, and not entirely sure what had just hit them, but they would definitely be left craving more.