‘I don’t want to turn into a caricature of myself,’ says Idles frontman Joe Talbot. ‘That would be such a fucking shame for all the people who have invested in our normality.’ That ‘normality’ is at the heart of this swift, enjoyable history of the Bristol band and their unlikely success story. In a way they are normal: five white blokes in their thirties, they look like the contents of every vaguely hipster pub in the world. Tats. Vans. Little hats. Lad bantz. But in another way, they are extraordinary: angry, woke, vulnerable, confronting toxic masculinity while wearing only Y-fronts on stage (that’s guitarist Mark Bowen, a former dentist).
Idles have endured a fair amount of criticism for their ‘I’m-a-man-so-I-know-that-men-are-cunts’ schtick (including a proper laceration from Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson), but based on this film, they are genuine. They also clearly inspire astounding loyalty in their fans and the community around the band. Even if you don’t like their music that much – or white-man rock in general – this is a bracing portrait of DIY creativity in the UK in the twenty-first century. ‘We were constantly told: “You’re not right,”’ says Talbot. ‘But that’s the point.’ They’re easy people to like, and you almost wish that Do Not Go Gentle was longer – surely a first for a rock doc.
There’s plenty of backstage/tour bus/hotel room stuff, but it’s refreshingly un-navel-gazing. Plus, live, Idles are quite a proposition, an oddly English mash of Fugazi-like intensity, panto and pub brawl. ‘This song’s called “White Privilege”,’ yelps Talbot with a bulging thousand-yard stare. ‘How apt! It’s for the man in the front who’s had TOO MUCH BEER.’ Feelgood hit of the summer.
In UK cinemas Jul 2.