Thursday, April 18, 2024

Billy Idol spits in the face of time at the Manchester Arena

Boasting a line up filled with countless 80s night hits, Billy Idol returned to Manchester with support from industrial legends Killing Joke and quirky art pop icon, Toyah Wilcox

Toyah Wilcox was first on stage and she managed to channel a more life-affirming and playful element of punk that is often forgotten.


Opening with ‘Thunder in the Mountains’ and playing many of her biggest hits throughout her storied career to thunderous applause, Toyah and her band gave a performance that helped capture a youthful exuberance that is embodied by an audience that is clearly young at heart. 

She proceeded to dance her way through her set all while delivering soaring vocals and maintaining the energy of someone many decades her junior. 

Killing Joke continued the set to a wildly mixed reception. Many audience members with a predisposition towards more extreme and darker forms of music gelled well with the phenomenal percussion and dark soundscapes while the rest who were here for the lighter and more pop-driven brand of punk were left feeling confused and alienated. Killing Joke were indeed an acquired taste but if you got it, then you were in for a unique experience with heavy guitar and drum work. 

Killing Joke

With the divide established, Killing Joke still delivered a wonderful performance led by the eccentric performance by lead vocalist, Jaz Coleman, accompanied by bombastic guitar work and near virtuosic drumming. 

Billy Idol eventually took the stage with the Generation X classic ‘Dancin With Myself’ and a sole truth was made painfully evident within just a few verses: Billy Idol has barely aged in 40 years as he continued to rip through classics including ‘Cradle of Love’ and ‘Flesh for Fantasy’

Killing Joke

Steve Stevens may not be a name that many may know but his importance in Billy Idol’s career is remarkably important and in this show, he made his presence known by displaying some absolutely incredible guitar skills – including an acoustic solo that included excerpts from Led Zeppelin and Van Halen songs and even showcasing some flamenco style riffing. 

Billy’s latest output, like most music released post-2020, dealt with the frustrations of the pandemic and while a number of musicians may have taken a blunt “f*ck the virus” approach – Billy opted for an introspective approach with ‘Bitter Taste’, comparing it to his motorcycle accident with images of him travelling through barren fields accompanied him on the screen behind him. 

Billy Idol continues to put out music to this day with an EP being released this year entitled The Cage which contains some of his strongest material on the set list including ‘Runnin’ from the Ghost’, a song that deals with his lifelong struggles with addiction. The track is easily the heaviest in the set featuring monstrous drum fills and guitar riffs that could be mistaken for Avenged Sevenfold riffs. 

Billy Idol

With a few exceptions, Billy rarely mentioned time passing or his age which made the set easier to relate to from a younger standpoint, which is a direct contrast to Toyah who mentioned most songs being forty years old at almost every opportunity possible. 

‘Rebel Yell’ signalled the encore break and not only is this arguably his most iconic song, it’s also one of his most energetic and anthemic. The track was designed from the second Billy touched pen to paper writing the song and witnessing his band play it live is the only way to properly experience it. 

Billy Idol

The show predictably ended with ‘White Wedding’, easily his biggest hit and while it doesn’t have the same bombastic nature as ‘Rebel Yell’, it remains a staple of 80s best-ofs for a reason. 

Billy could easily sit and watch the crowd sing the entire song but he belts the song back at the crowd with his signature roar before leaving Manchester, hopefully, to return in the future. 

Billy Idol

Billy Idol has aged like a fine wine, his vocals are still powerful and raw, his stage presence is still impeccable and his backing band is sharp as ever. Hopefully, Idol will continue to embody the punk rock spirit and spit in the face of time for many years to come. 

[Note from Editor: I’m not sure this next sentence is required but seems to be a running theme in reviews recently – I suppose it’s useful information!]. The car park at Manchester Arena was hard to navigate and difficult to find spaces but the staff were incredibly helpful. 

Lamestream Lydia
Lamestream Lydia
Self-proclaimed journalist, Progressive rock enthusiast and the most American sounding person you're ever likely to meet in the North of England

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