Gig Review: Billy Idol / Killing Joke / Toyah – Ovo Hydro, Glasgow (21st October 2022)

This was one tour I’d really been looking forward to, even more so after the cancellation of the 2022 dates. The lineup also seemed to be quite fluid, with The Go-Gos having to step down due to the change in dates, and then Television also having to cry off because of illness. We were left with a still very interesting and eclectic lineup of “classic artists” (people even older than me), each of whom have a rich collection of releases behind them.

Toyah (c) Kraken Photography

Toyah had posted on Twitter that her set was to start a whopping 5 minutes early, but even with this warning the venue was still filling up as she started and played through her thirty minutes. This was an absolute shame as she was bloody brilliant. Riding the crest of a wave of public attention after her lockdown cover video sessions with husband Robert Fripp, her set was mainly made up of her own material with one cover (“Echo Beach” by Martha & The Muffins).

I confess to having lived through Toyah’s 80s peak, but knowing only a couple of her songs, but hearing her incredible voice soar through the likes of “It’s Mystery” and “I Want To Be Free” was a quality start to the evening. It’s perhaps rude to bring a lady’s age into it, but Toyah herself stated that she was 64 at one point, and honestly I can only hope to have that much energy in 15 or so years time. She cut a great figure on stage, and she didn’t drop a note with an incredible range.

While the set was a little low key with the band moderately stationary due to a lot of the space being taken up by the headliners’ kit, the music and Toyah’s incredible personality burst through and made the show seem larger than it was. I do wonder if some of the musicians were actually born when some of these songs were charting, but they certainly knew how to play them! Kudos to the lady herself for some genuinely nice one-on-one crowd interaction as well. Very much a pleasant person as well as a professional.

It’s worth noting that during Toyah’s set, fans seemed to be welcome to wander down to the front of the fully-seated venue and take photos, which was good to see. With the Hydro barely being half full (minus the curtained-off sections) by the time she finished, this didn’t make for an enormous crowd, but did make for some nice memories for those who were taking selfies.

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And then came Killing Joke. Cited as hugely influential by acts such as Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, and a load more I could actually hear an edge of Ministry in their sound. Thing is, I was hearing pretty much one Ministry riff. Over and over. For about forty minutes with short breaks while Jaz Coleman talked to the crowd.

Killing Joke (c) Kraken Photography

Obviously I just didn’t “get” Killing Joke, and I saw several people in the audience going a bit mental during their set. Not me, I’m afraid. I could pick up from their sound that they sat between the end of the flower power / drug fuelled rock scene of the late 60s and 70s, and on the cusp of the punk and electro-rock explosions of the 80s. However, I just found them rather droney and repetitive. Fair play to those who liked them, and I’ll always give a band a chance, but Killing Joke are on my “seen ’em… moving on now” list.

With a now-full Arena, a brief break and the lights dropped. A huge cheer erupted as the band walked on, the crowd leapt to their feet, and Billy Idol himself strode onto the scaffolding at the back of the stage. The last time I saw him play live, he was slightly older than I am now – back at Download 2005. Back then he was still climbing the rigging and bouncing about the stage, whereas tonight’s Billy didn’t have quite the physical energy. Having said that, if I hit 66 and I get women screaming at me (in the good way) when I take my top off I’ll be a happy bus pass owner.

His voice has definitely got a little more gravelly and growly, but there was no denying the passion he threw into the songs. And what a selection of songs! The show kicked off with a very old number – Generation X’s “Dancing With Myself”, and moved through Billy’s own “Cradle of Love” (which I genuinely heard for the first time as part of one of Weird Al’s polka numbers) and “Flesh For Fantasy”. With the traditional back-to-back opening trio out of the way, Billy gave a bit of backstory to the next number. “Cage” is the title track of Idol’s latest EP and is a flipping belter, but it really showed another side to him to hear him explain where the soul of the song came from… and to empathise with others who have their own cages to escape from.

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Steve Stevens (c) Kraken Photography

It was also the first song of the night where I really felt “Wow, he’s here”. Maybe it’s because it’s a newer song and therefore based on his voice as it is now, but his heart and soul just erupted for its all-too-short length. The rocking pace continued through soundtrack song “Speed”, and then last year’s Roadside EP got a showing with “Bitter Taste”. I’m assuming it would have featured more had the tour taken place twelve months ago, but I’m not complaining as the set tonight also included “Runnin’ From The Ghost”, my personal favourite from the Cage EP.

Generation X were revisited once again, along with a great story about punks pogoing off a bus, with “One Hundred Punks”, around a couple of absolutely blistering solos from guitarist Steve Stevens – a man with parents who follow the same naming methodology as those of Biff Byford, so good they named him twice. Kind of. Stevens is a legend. Seen Top Gun? It’s Stevens’ guitar playing throughout. He won a Grammy for that. Billy was phenomenal tonight, but Stevens… I could happily listen to an album of him freestyling and riffing, and think I’ll be digging around to see if such a thing exists.

The main set ended with a rousing “Rebel Yell”, before a three-song encore which culminated (no surprises) in “White Wedding”. I’d heard a couple of people from earlier gigs say that Billy appeared a little breathless at times, but this definitely wasn’t the case in Glasgow. His vocal range might not be what it was 17 years ago, but his passion and ability to engage with a crowd are still there 100%.

A great gig, headlined by a genuine entertainer who I hope has the longevity of Alice Cooper and the Stones so that I get the chance to see him again!

Photos by Kraken Of Moshville Times

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Steve D
October 24, 2022 4:32 PM

No Killing Joke are not just one Ministry riff. Without KJ there would have been no NIN or Ministry. They are legends but also as a hypothetical neutral I would also suggest: write properly please and take your time and think before writing, avoiding spelling mistakes and mistakes about band members names etc. Might help.

December 9, 2023 11:05 AM

[…] by the legendary Billy Idol. Picking up on my rekindled interest in Billy courtesy of his superb performance in Glasgow last year, I jumped on the chance to have a sneak preview of this […]