Gig Review – Billy Idol – Hammersmith Apollo 9th November 2014.
Once more a disruption to the space-time continuum has meant a (slight) delay in transmission. I could head back in time and transmit it then but given the nature of this particular problem it may fracture reality itself, causing parallel dimensions to converge and all manner of chaos to let loose. So for the sake of humanity, its best left well alone.
It is said that a journey of 9461 petametres begins with a single light-year and that time-travel warps the mind and widens the (event) horizon. Yet you can stay in your home galaxy and see the whole universe. With such nuggets of future-tea-wisdom in mind I fired up the sugar-tongs and headed for Fulham Palace Road in the late 1970s.
Passing TW Studios and The Greyhound en route, I somehow wound up in Thailand holed up with SiB and The Duke of Cornwall. A little later Kate in Black arrived in time for Tiffin. After sufficient sustenance we were joined by Audrey and Sandra in Black who left early to take up their positions on the Front Line. Then we made the company of some Southern Hemispherical Whippersnappers who were on good form in anticipation of the oncoming event.
Revived, refreshed and buoyed of spirit, we left the Duke behind and made our way to the place to which we were headed…
…but this was not 1978…
…an error with the tongmaster 2400 had caused the temporometer display to read out by minus 36 years…
…we were in fact in 2014…
…Well, when in Rome (Ok Hammersmith actually…)
Arriving at the Apollo there was a huge queue winding all the way around the adjacent street, up and around the venue and back again. KiB was trying to guide Liza in Green to our whereabouts and was eventually successful in this endeavour (after several attempts at circumnavigating the barriers). We briefly encountered Paul in Black on our way in but (alas) all attempts to locate Straightenout proved fruitless after searching high and low .
We took our place for optimum viewing and were joined by Simon in Black on the dot of commencement of entertainment.
After a little teasing to warm up the crowd and an atmospheric build-up from Steve Stevens they kicked off with ‘Postcards from the Past’ from the new album. Showing confidence in the newer material and rightly so.
The sound tonight was crisp and clear and the synchronised light show very impressive. The band gave an outstanding performance. And Billy Idol himself was truly in command and didn’t really let up for the best part of 2 hours.
They delivered a well-structured set comprised mainly of solo material with a few Gen X songs thrown in for good measure (Dancing With Myself, King Rocker and Ready Steady Go). There was a good pace with slower numbers offsetting the more up-tempo ones. The showmanship was most impressive with the whole band getting their moment in the spotlight; From the Rock-solid drumming of Erik Eldenius, the Rock-steady bass/versatile backing vocals of Stephen McGrath and the cool, calm, collected keyboard control centre of Paul Trudeau, to the consistently cool chops of Rhythm Guitarist Billy Morrison and the insanely talented guitar ramblings of Steve Stevens who took us on a wild ride to anywhere from Flamenco through Ring Modulated madness to high octane Rock and everywhere between.
Then of course there’s Billy himself, still giving it his all. He’s got the whole stage covered with his sneering punk rock ninja moves. At times it seems like he’s stretched his range a little vocally but this is clearly down to how much of himself he’s giving over to the show, an awesome performer. Not bad for an old Geezer! Between songs he reflects about being a Londoner and the local area. In some numbers he still picks up the guitar and at times the interplay between the three guitars was really quite imaginative and never overbearing.
Billy’s new album was well represented tonight including the awesome title track – Kings And Queens of The Underground. It must be said that it really is a great record and well worth checking out!
The hits, of course, were delivered much to the crowds delight. A sell-out crowd, who lapped up every beat and syllable, were comprised of a wide range of ages and backgrounds, reflecting the global appeal Mr Idol has attained as a solo artist.
All too soon it was over and time for bed…
Is he punk or isn’t he? Etc etc Eitc…
It doesn’t really matter! But…
…Billy was there right at the start of the punk thing; on the sofa with the Pistols during the Grundy Affair (as part of the Bromley Contingent), he was at the cutting edge of Punk Rock, playing and developing his craft with bands such as Chelsea before forming Generation X. Whose song writing talent was immediately clear, their output being well structured – musically, sharp and witty – lyrically and delivered with style and precision.
It’s clear that this talent then continued into Billy’s solo career with consistent hits and success. And while his output may have been more ‘Pop’ there is an undeniable, underlying edge that comes from his Punk pedigree. Even during the Gen X years there was a clear progression with the song writing as the band became more musically mature which led some back then to claim they’d ‘Sold Out’. Their loss!
For what it’s worth, thoroughbred Punk IM(not so)HO!
Conclusion… Awesome! Catch him if you can…
Photos Courtesy of Andy Miller.