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The Aids Memorial

Critics, Pop, Artist of the week : A band with plenty to shout about

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‘All human life is in their songs’: Idles at Academy, Oxford last week. Photograph by Sophia Evans for the Observer

Bristol outfit Idles’ politically charged rock strikes a powerful chord on the messy, celebratory final night of their sold-out tour

Idles
Academy, Oxford

Idles guitarist Mark Bowen is walking across the venue’s ceiling. Held aloft by the crowd, the topless musician turns himself partly upside down to take advantage of the Academy’s low-hanging architecture.

This is not behaviour you would expect from a dentist . By night, though, the NHS’s mutton-chopped Bowen is often to be found wearing only his pants, one of two prancing guitarists in a rowdy, shouty outfit playing the final night of a soldout UK tour. (“For the last fucking time, we’re not a punk band,” Idles’ singer Joe Talbot claimed at a recent gig in Manchester .)

Earlier this year, the Bristol outfit’s independently released second album charted at No 5 ; it has now sold more than 25,000 copies, accord...