Live Reviews

Billy Idol – Live

Brixton Academy

Tonight, Billy Idol starts his encore with his 1982 hit ‘Hot In The City‘; an appropriate choice, given that London is currently in the grip of some ultra-humid weather. The assembled fans are already pretty sweaty before they’ve even entered the venue, and once inside, it’s clear that the Brixton Academy’s ventilation system (or lack of) won’t be doing the sold-out crowd any favours.

Not the ideal circumstances for a lively night, then; but thankfully, Billy Idol remains a highly engaging and entertaining performer after all these years. Backed by a solid band featuring his long term collaborator and guitar ace Steve Stevens, he rouses us from our heat-induced stupor with an early rendition of ‘Dancing With Myself‘, prompting a loud sing-along and fists aplenty in the air.

Despite cutting his teeth with late 70’s punk rockers Generation X, Billy has never cared for punk’s revisionist stance on popular music history, and as he prowls the stage with his trademark sneer intact, it’s clear that this is a man that still worships at the altar of rock n’ roll’s great heritage. Ever the showman, he morphs into the bastard lovechild of Sid Vicious and Frank Sinatra for the darkly romantic ‘Eyes Without A Face‘, and initiates a heroically OTT call-and-response routine midway through his signature tune ‘Rebel Yell‘. Needless to say, the crowd – which encompasses denim n’ leather clad folks of all ages – love it, and are not shy about showing their appreciation.

The only temporary lapse in momentum happens roughly halfway through the nearly-2 hour set, when Billy and his bandmates opt to take a breather whilst Steve Stevens shows off his (admittedly impressive) guitar skills for a good few minutes more than is really necessary. Similarly, extending ‘Mony Mony’ to roughly twice its usual length with an inter-band jam session wasn’t really called for either; but after more than thirty years in the game, it’d be churlish to begrudge Billy a few indulgences.

The sight of 4000-odd smiling, sweat-drenched faces making their way to the tube station afterwards serves as proof enough that the man born William Michael Broad still lives up to his stage name. Rock n’ roll 1, sticky summer weather 0.

Alex Gosman