Hordern Pavilion, Sydney NSW
February 1st, 2020
Support: The Delta Riggs and The Kids
With Mother Nature cranking the heat up to a savage 44°C today, it certainly was ‘Hot in the City’ at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion. This was no deterrent for Billy Idol fans, as they joined the queue to see their icon. Some bravely donning their leather jackets and bleached-blonde hair, while others chose to wait it out at a nearby pub, throwing back refreshments until closer to the time of the doors to the venue being flung open.
The heat mixed with an excessive consumption of alcohol proved too much for some, as I watched people arguing and throwing punches, with a head-butt thrown in for good measure. I took advantage, as I weaved my way around the fights, right to the front of the Pavilion, with a sense of accomplishment.
The seated area of the Hordern seemed to fill quickly, while the floor crowd flowed in slowly. Still, a sizable crowd was in the room when first support act, The Kids, took to the stage. Drummer, Jagger Alexander-Erber greeted us in his underwear, yelling a proud “Fuck you!” I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these kids before, each member under the age of 17. My initial response was “Holy shit, if they were my kids I’d kick their arse”; which I quickly learnt is their intent. Their aim is to shock and offend, as they channel all their anger and angst into their music, which in hindsight is probably a preferable way for kids to release their negative energy, rather than causing chaos out on the streets or even in the home, right? With that being said, these kids were everything you would want from a young punk band. Rebellious, energetic, ferocious, and dare I say at times even funny. Along with their original songs, we were treated to a rendition of The Vapours classic ‘Turning Japanese’. Sadly, tonight was the last show guitarist Lauchlan will be playing with The Kids, but they made it very clear how much his time with the band was appreciated and how much he is loved and will be annoyed via text message.
Next up, The Delta Riggs, from Melbourne. I’d heard some good things about this band and after doing my own research, I learnt they have quite a fanbase, with most of their shows selling out. I was keen to see what the hype was about. I positioned myself where I had a great view of the stage, only to be pushed and shoved as the first song began, by what appeared to be a crazed fan trying to get down the front. It wasn’t until I could hear “Excuse me, my son is the bass player, I need to get through to see him”, that I learnt I was dealing with someone much worse than a crazed fan. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to deal with a band member’s parent, but let me tell you it’s not always an enjoyable experience. Not only was this mother flailing her arms about in an attempt to get his attention, I had to listen to her screams and then it began…”See, that’s my son”, “isn’t he great”, “he can sing too” as he offered his backing vocals. I was on the receiving end of a shove each time he looked in her direction, or opened his mouth, or played his bass. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see proud parents but not at the expense of shifting my focus from the band. I say that with all respect and no offence intended. I did get a visual of the multi-talented Elliott Hammond; decked out in the whitest of white shoes, jeans, T-shirt and accompanying sunglasses. Not only was he a gun on vocals, he played maraca’s, keys and a wicked harmonica. While aurally this band wasn’t my thing, a little too happy and poppy; I give absolute credit where it’s due and these guys are great at what they do, just ask the bass players mum.
Finally, it was time for one of Punk Rocks conceivers. The man that has a snarl only Elvis himself could compete with and a sex appeal that was second to none. Billy fucking Idol!! The room now filled, the stage washed with red lights and the audience dripping with as much anticipation as sweat. Erik Eldenius, Paul Trudeau and Stephen McGrath made their way on stage, followed closely by Billy Morrison then Steve Stevens. Taking their place on stage and kicking the set off with ‘Cradle of Love’, Billy Idol strutted out looking as sharp as always, in his tight black pants and long vest. I think the heat just went up a degree or two! This legend might be 64 years old and naturally his voice is a little worse for wear, but he still oozed appeal and had me feeling like a teenager again. Given the response from the crowd, I think it’s safe to assume their opinion resonated with mine.
The hits rolled on with ‘Dancing with Myself’ and ‘Flesh for Fantasy’. Billy Idol only slowing down to make our hearts race, as he slipped off his vest and shirt, putting his vest back on to reveal his bare chest for the duration of the set. Everything in proportion and appreciation from the crowd as they yelled: “We love you Billy”. Billy announced that all proceeds from tonight’s merch sales as well as the Meet & Greet sales, will be donated to the Australian Bushfire Appeal. What an absolute champion! Australia thanks you, Billy.
It was ‘Ghosts in my Guitar’ that really evoked a sense of sadness in me, as Billy informed us his father, William Alfred Broad passed away soon after listening to this song. The backdrop was filled with photos of his father, as the song played out. The last image, a fading photo of Billy and William together.
Turning our solemn mood around, Steve Stevens, long standing collaborator and guitarist for Billy Idol, treated us to an awe inspiring guitar solo, with a Led Zeppelin medley, including ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’, then later the theme to Top Gun, for which Steve not only did the lead guitar work for, but won a well-deserved Grammy in 1987. I needed to make a quick dash for some water and it was now I realised the enormity of the crowd, as I was forced to enjoy the rest of the show from the back of the venue, near the doors. A few Generation X favourites were played, ‘Your Generation’ and ‘Ready Steady Go’; before ‘Rebel Yell’ had us crying out for ‘more more more’. Billy giving thanks to Australia, as our country was the first they received a gold record for, in 1984. How cool is that? What a proud moment!
A drum solo from the mighty talented and diverse Erik Eldenius neared us to the end of the show. Many a punter checking the time and stating, “It’s only 10:30”. Even though these superstars had just entertained us for an hour and a half, they wanted the party to go on and on it went, for one more song, anyway. ‘Mony Mony’ brought the show to an end and had us dancing around on our imaginary ponies. What a great way to end a brilliant show.
The start of the night may have been riddled with anger and violence between punters, but I’m quite certain everyone walked out of the Hordern with smiles on their faces and memories to treasure; I know I surely did.
Cradle of Love
Dancing with Myself
Flesh for Fantasy
Can’t Break me Down
Ghosts in my Guitar
Eyes without a Face
Your Generation (Generation X)
Ready Steady Go (Generation X)
Review by Trudy Johnson
The Delta Riggs