Oxford Academy


How Heavy Lungs Became the Future Psych-Punk Giants and IDLES Cemented this as the Tour to Say “I was there!” As told from UK final tour date Oxford……….

Being the last gig of the tour some bands would be resting ready for their continental Europe take over but Heavy Lungs and IDLES give themselves no respite. The whole atmosphere in the room is alive with the feeling that this is a tour that everyone: bands, crew and audience will forever talk about. On Facebook the street team was posting that they could wait to give out IDLES stickers to the crowd, no one was taking a rest and IDLES knew it was their time to earn their place as a band who will never go back to their humdrum lives and jobs. Maybe IDLES learnt from the brilliant Anvil documentary (The Story of Anvil) a band that should have spent the past few decades partying with Metallica et al. but fell into obscurity.

Heavy Lungs, are one of the thousands of brilliant bands that have the ability to be gracing our mid-size tour venues and indie radio stations but at present are fairly unknown. The thing that sets them apart is their performance and their likeability coupled with their sound fitting with many touring bands around at the moment and the fact that thanks to IDLES they now have exposure, something they arenít taking for granted. The boys know that they need to build on the chance this tour has given them darting around the venue rescheduling sound check to fit in 2 interviews with me. Later on stage before the lights even come up drummer George is giving his best Sex Pistols pogo bounce behind the drum kit. One can only ASSUME this is the pysch-punk equivalent of a gym warm up.

Lights up and we’re into the onslaught, two songs and barely any break one with big riffs and the second with bigger drums. Heavy Lungs are a different beast to IDLES, I’ll be honest it took me two songs to realise but I commend them for their song order choice. I assume their thoughts would smash the hell out of everyone whilst they’ve got a room full of IDLES fans attention then show the crowd the scope of their sound afterwards. Heavy Lungs don’t care who they’re playing to, they’ll play to their best wherever they play so the boys play current small radio hit Blood Brother with no intro wanting to show their credentials as a band not play on the IDLES link. Danny has a lazy don’t care tone of voice which is particularly prevalent in Blood Brother reminding me of the post-punk scene. By this point in the set my head is thinking post-punk and nods to Fugazi, Heavy Lungs are a band of 2 halves and the half-time whistle just got blown. Drummer George thanks the absolutely rammed crowd before he sits behind the kit and shows us his further talents singing the majority of the next song.


The next song Stutter starts demonically with minor key song-writing giving its nod to what I assume is Heavy Lungs lifelong obsession with Black Sabbath, mid-way through James dives off his drum kit to maniacally laugh into Dannyís mic. Hell awaits at the end of his laugh with a minute and a half of relentless pounding to finish the song. To finish their set, they solidify my prediction that they’ll become a staple on alternative festivals such as End of The Road (last year headlined by Heavy Lungs faves Thee Oh Sees) and before long Iím sure weíll be listening to their first Marc Riley 6 music of many to come. I assume the last track is roughly 7 minutes but with changes in moods, peaks and troughs laced with solos worthy of LA’s Ty Seagall and the scene of not so merry men. Heavy Lungs will sell out their Jan/Feb headline tour book early to avoid disappointment.

What a show the IDLES boys put on! I want to let you in on a few trade secrets to illustrate how much of a performance the boys gave us for the final night of their UK tour when most would have taken a chill night. Bowen was literally moving house missing sound check for it; Dev had no clean clothes and spent the afternoon up and down looking for laundrettes; Joe was hungover screaming his heart out regardless and the monitor desk crashed meaning for a period of time the boys would have had issues hearing themselves. To top this all off the band know the importance of connecting with fans, Dev and Jon spent their time before and after performance selling merchandise answering questions and signing for fans. They were so dedicated that Dev said his goodbyes to his girlfriend whilst selling gear shouting “love you” as she walked out of the venue reminding me of the romantic couples of WW2; whilst this was happening Jon rushed round the venue to get peopleís vinylís signed by every member of the band accidentally giving the wrong one to a fan. Dedicated Jon ran out with the other fan to try and swap them back. All of this shows the heart of IDLES, itís no surprise Joe signs everything with a heart around his name.


On to the show, there are rock concerts and there are theatrical shows, this tour somehow manages to be a mix of the pair whilst still being authentic. I comment this because IDLES admit that the tickets are a little more expensive so they can have a sleeper tour bus to rejuvenate themselves, a sound crew to give you the best replication of their music and a lighting crew to give you the full IDLES experience. I also note that the band’s office crew (management, label etc.) are second to none, the boys were given their chance to make the big, time and took it. To add to ëthe showí the set list is annotated with chaotic choreography: during Danny Nedelko we are shout-serenaded by Danny and Joe whilst Bowen crowd surfs; next we listen like religious follows as evangelist Joe tells us to hug a stranger near us they play Love Song; in Exeter Heavy Lungs throw roses from the stage whilst fans are let on stage to dance and when the band finish on Rottweiler I had no idea it could get so chaotic with band members gradually leaving until Bowen was left smashing, crashing and wailing around the stage with his guitar.

Throughout the set between songs we hear the people that Joe is thankful for, important topics to him and hear the meaning of songs. Joe speaks of consent after his friend was ëgropedí on the IDLES tour in the crowd a previous night; Joe gives thanks to everyone that has made his IDLES dream possible before playing Iím Scum; Joe realises putting on a chaotic show involves great security as he thanks them for keeping everyone safe; unsurprisingly Joe dedicates Samaritans to “best mates Heavy Lungs” and gives us his final song intro saying of Rottweiler that people should not read The Sun as it will ëgive you cancerí. This is the kind of gig that a journalist can write paragraph after paragraph telling you every detail, but this takes away from the night as a whole; IDLES did everything within their power to put on the most unforgettable but also indescribable performance. With fans going to multiple nights on the tour meeting up with fan club members every night this tells you how good they are live. What a band, what a tour, I hope you were there but if not, I hope you get tickets to the next one.

Set List
Never Fight a Man with a Perm
Faith in the City
Iím Scum
Danny Nedelko
Gram Rock
Divide and Conquer
1049 Gotho
Love Song
Cry to Me
Well Done


Words by James Wadsworth.

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