Gig review by Zak Edwards with photography by Bianca Barrett

Billy Idol

On this Bonfire Night we lucky things at Gig Junkies are off to see fireworks in Brum of a different kind. And we’re kinda excited!  Cos we’re here to see former punk of Generation X fame, who went to American to seek fame and found it and then some! With a Rebel Yell and far, far more than that – success beckoned with attitude-laced hits that were chant-fantastic. And the blonde bombshell with the snarl that Elvis would be jealous of, is here tonight – ladies and gentlemen – welcome Billy Idol.

Billy Idol

Idol’s journey starts off way back in the mid seventies. A member of Siouxsie and the Banshees (before the band even took that name).  Then of Chelsea. Then Generation X – one of the first punk bands to appear on Top of The Pops. Generation X split by the early 80’s and Idol took himself off to New York – a timely move. He met up with guitarist Steve Stevens and became part of the ’second British Invasion’ of the US music scene – just as MTV gave us all the music video. And the hits came: ‘White Wedding’, ‘Rebel Yell’, Eyes Without A Face’, ‘Flesh for Fantasy’…

Billy Idol

This year, Idol is back with a snarling vengeance. In October he delivered us his self-penned autobiography ‘Dancing With Myself’ (to rave reviews) and a new album – his seventh studio production ‘Kings & Queens of the Underground”.

Billy Idol

Upon entering the Academy tonight, to celebrate the launch of his new album, we’re greeted by a sea of black, as punk rockers of yester-year stand shoulder to shoulder, all clad in leather, head to foot, with the occasional Billyesq bleached-blonde spiky barnet dotted around the crowd for good measure. Amongst the fans there’s even a spitting image of the main man along with a lass resembling Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell. For once it’s nice to be at a gig where the average age range is one up from mine instead of being several below!

Billy Idol

There’s a palpable air of excitement around the place in anticipation for the pending appearance of Mr. Idol and his musical cohorts (or could it be just relief at being in from the freezing cold!?!)

And as we wait, chants of “Billy… Billy… Billy” precede as the singers take to the the stage. There he is – the man himself – the vital Idol – snarling at the head-banging audience with a rip-snorting opener ‘Postcard from the Past’.

Billy Idol

It’s quickly apparent that the Idol’s equally as pumped as the audience – it’s like some sort of punk-rock marriage of minds.

“It’s good to be here in Birminghaaammm!!!” he greets.  “In the UK finally!” We’re pleased he knows where he is and which country he’s in!

Billy Idol

The party atmosphere becomes fevered as guitarist Stevens, flaunts his talents, playing many a lead line with his guitar behind his head. ‘Flesh for Fantasy’ sees Idol bearing his (nicely toned) trademark arms and chest – not bad for this punk dude who, let’s just say ‘lived a little’ and whose sixtieth birthday falls in little over a year.

Picking up an acoustic guitar, Idol tells a tale about a chap from Latvia called Ed. A little bizarre but the fans seem to dig it before he bursts into a rendition of ‘Sweet Sixteen’ – check this out – all country and western! Very nice indeed.

Billy Idol

Maybe it’s a generational thing but after almost every song, Idol disappears for a costume change – bizarrely in a side of stage makeshift changing room. Think Cher or Beyoncé but on a less grandiose scale and clothes exclusively in black (apart from trade mark open white shirt and you’ll get the picture).

Title track of his newbie ‘Kings and Queens of the Underground’, may be a departure from his ‘roots’ but still goes down well with his hardcore fans, despite it’s more melodic feel.

Billy Idol

‘Eyes Without A Face’ is the first of his signature tunes I really recognised, but it seems that I’m very much in the minority – everybody seems to be singing and bopping along to every single song and has been from the word go.

His cover of ‘LA Woman’ became ‘Birmingham Woman’ (still knows which city he’s in) goes down particularly well and, as with all of his beefier tracks, we have fist pumps a plenty by the exuberant vocalist.

Billy Idol

Another costume change (so regular now) and we’re treated to another particularly spectacular guitar solo courtesy of Stevens, with a somewhat Mexican feel.

Idol’s not afraid of showing his bod off – off comes the top and is hurled into the crowd as he belts out ‘Rebel Yell’ equaled by the crowd’s frenzy and head banging a-plenty. Thirty years on, I have to say, this song still sounds amazing!

Billy Idol

Encore, complete with new shirt (again), kicks off with Idol thanking Birmingham (again) for making his life “so f****** great” before he delivers us acoustic version of ‘White Wedding’ that steadily progresses into the full-on rock version. Pure genius. And to top it off –  ‘Mony Mony’ – the fans they be apoplectic!

And then with a Tarzan roar that was it.

Billy Idol

So this ‘former’ punk; the snarling showman; this vital Idol – delivered us the first night of his European Tour. Was he up for it – hell yeah. Did we love it – hell yeah. Get a chance go for it – cos with his Rebel Yell you’ll be wanting more, more, more…

Billy Idol

4 Responses to “Billy Idol at The O2 Academy, Birmingham, UK – 5th November 2014”

  1. Wayne Fox Says:

    Guys, this is IMMENSE.

  2. Bianca Says:

    Thanks guys, you’re so sweet x

  3. john bentley Says:

    I second that!

  4. Ken Harrison Says:

    Excellent review and pics !!!

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