IDLES and Portishead deliver at special charity gig at Bristol’s O2 Academy - review

More than £90,000 was raised for War Child UK from the gig at the O2 Academy in Bristol

IDLES and Portishead wowed a packed O2 Academy last night (May 2) as part of a special War Child UK benefit gig for Ukraine which has raised more than £90,000.

It was the first time Portishead had played in seven years - and for the 1,600 lucky winners of tickets for the show it was a moment they will never forget, with many clearly feeling emotional as the trio played out their final song Roads for the night.

So special was the short performance that even legendary gig-goer Big Jeff was shussing the crowd around him to appreciate the spine-tingling beauty of Beth Gibbon’s vocals.

As for the main headliner, IDLES, the band seemed to be the perfect fit for such an event with their anti-war anthem War with the lyric ‘we’re dying for the stone-faced lies’. No doubt, this was the best I’ve seen of the band and I could feel they meant every word and note.

IDLES paid tribute to their close friend and Ukrainian immigrant Danny Nedelko towards the end of their set (Credit: Chris Cooper)

Front man Joe Talbot pounded the floor, beating his chest and screaming his words. All of which was mirrored by a raptured crowd that gave as much back.

The set started slow with MTT 420 RR, then Mr Motivator literally kicked me in the face.

Talbot then made references to his ‘heroes’ Portishead throughout the show several times - and at one point it was clear he was unsurprisingly a little overwhelmed coming on after them.

Portishead played live for the first time since 2015 - Beth Gibbons beautiful voice wowed the crowd (Credit: Chris Cooper)

Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley even joined Idles on stage mid-set to play Beachland Ballroom too.

Then came the politically charged Danny Nadelko, who is a close friend of the band, and a Ukrainian immigrant. And he was there, riding on Talbot’s shoulder whilst the crowd shouted the chorus ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, ah, ah, ah, ah’. Glorious!

Next came Rottweiler with a long symmetrical drumming crescendo between Talbot and Beavis which brought the show to a viscous close with epic timing, passion and unified joy.

1,600 lucky prize draw winners got the chance to see IDLES at the O2 Academy (Credit: Chris Cooper)

In short, I saw people screaming. I saw people dancing. I saw strangers hugging singing unity This, for me, was what live music was meant to be, and even better when it takes place for a brilliant cause.

Tickets for the benefit gig were made available through a £10 donation prize draw, with the winners selected at random - all proceeds have gone to War Child UK, which is working hard in Ukraine as families flee the Russian invasion.