Billy Idol at Resorts World Arena , Birmingham on 23.10.2022 with Killing Joke and Toyah supporting
Quite a line up this. Maybe a bit odd slotting Killing Joke between Toyah and Billy Idol but they are all out of my vinyl record box days. Originally the support was to be The Go-Go’s, then Television but Covid rearrangement and other illness put pay to those.
The venue is the arena at the NEC to save any confusion. I guess I’ve grown into the practicalities of such places after my early years in the area (My blog: Oh No They’re Playing the NEC) and for this trio we are off centre in the second row. A perfect view. Gig buddy Dave comes up trumps again – cheers.
Toyah, the punk queen of King’s Heath B14, is clearly delighted to be performing to this big Birmingham crowd. A half-hour set opening with Thunder in the Mountains before Echo Beach, her regular Martha and the Muffins cover.
Of course It’s a Mystery is here and I Wanna Be Free to end, which is Toyah’s anthem really. Her best song is, as it ever was, Neon Womb, from that early Sheep Farming in Barnet EP that I bought after her appearance on BBC TV’s Shoestring detective series. That was 1979. Not long after that I could be seen heading to the London Rainbow wearing my black Harrington jacket with Toyah Tippexed on the back – rock’n’roll eh. I took a bit of a ribbing for that off school mates, even back then.
That’s my fourth Toyah gig in the last three years and I’m always left with a smile on my face. Where’s that bottle of Tippex?
Killing Joke next, a band I have seen many times (my last Killing blog tells the story). A very good greatest hits selection emerges from their extensive catalogue – if hits is the right word, Killing Joke have rarely been mainstream (Love Like Blood aside).
Again a band I have a long-term affinity with, having bought their early double A-side single a few days after seeing them in a crowd estimated at 80,000 in Trafalgar Square after a CND rally. They play both A-sides: Requiem and the brilliant Change.
They are up against it with this Billy Idol arena crowd. Jaz Coleman doesn’t let that put him off. I’m out of my seat punching the air but an occasional glance over my shoulder doesn’t meet with the tribal acclamation you’d get at a KJ headline gig, despite the early offering of Wardance.
The Wait is an epic inclusion, as ever – Jaz’s grasping hand at its most evident – and the urgent early single Pssyche gives as much as you could want from a Killing Joke support slot.
A break before the ole King Rocker appears. Billy Idol is about as rock star as they come. He’s 66 now, 67 in November. It’s a long time since he left Generation X and the UK for New York to make a solo career back in 1981. He has managed to carry people with him though, through the decades and hence these arena tours.
Last time I saw him was in Las Vegas on my wedding night – so he is now entrenched in my history (My Billy Idol wedding blog) even more so than through my record boxes. His last two EPs are good – each with four tracks that could all be singles. There’s the 2021 Roadside EP, after which the tour is titled and The Cage released this year, with Running from the Ghost the winner there.
The visuals for this gig are perfect. No gimmicks, just great sound, lighting, set, outfits and ‘Billy f*cking Idol’ as he roars late on. We are so close that the pics turn out a treat. The new pocket zoom does the job (Panasonic TZ90).
Dancing with Myself to open and not long after we get to Eyes Without a Face – a great single – I still have the gatefold sleeve version.
There is a Generation X song – he hasn’t forgotten his roots: 100 Punks. Love it. He also refers to his West Midlands roots – grandparents from Coventry eh.
Steve Stevens, Billy’s long time collaborator, gets his chance to showcase his guitar playing with some intricate solos and his bit: Blue Highway and into the Top Gun theme that he wrote.
Rebel Yell ends the main set. Toyah covers this one regularly and Billy must have won the rights to play it tonight. The crowd is lively and appreciative and their reward of White Wedding comes at the end of the encore. I suppose he has to play it every gig – no would let him out otherwise.
Billy’s happy. He says he has to go – got to save something for tomorrow night. “Birmingham. Thank you for making my life so f*ing great!”
The pleasure’s all ours Bill. Goodnight.
(More photos from tonight here in my 2022 Live Bands Flickr album. Page 3. Recent pics are at the end.)