Dave Lawrence heads back to the 80s for a night of nostalgia with Billy Idol, Toyah, and Killing Joke in Leeds.

Photos also by Dave Lawrence

FANS of Eighties music had a feast of entertainment laid before them at Leeds Arena on Tuesday evening.

The show, the final one of the UK tour, was opened by Toyah, followed by Killing Joke, and headlined by Billy Idol offered something for everyone.

Toyah got the proceedings off in fine style despite the early 7pm start. She gave us her hits - Thunder On The Mountains, I Want To Be Free and It’s A Mystery and a cover of Echo Beach. As anyone who has seen her Sunday Lunch videos which are filmed at home with her husband, King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, her engaging presence and sense of fun illuminated her set.

York Press: Toyah in Leeds. Photo by Dave LawrenceToyah in Leeds. Photo by Dave Lawrence (Image: Supplied)

Killing Joke were a late replacement for iconic US band Television who had to cancel their visit due to illness (Television themselves had been replacements for the originally planned support, The Go-Gos). Killing Joke’s heavier post-punk industrial sound was a real step change from the lighter pop songs of Toyah and left some of the audience a little bemused.

Geordie’s slashing guitar, Paul Ferguson’s pounding drums and Youth’s distinctive bass playing under subdued atmospheric lighting provided the platform for Jaz Coleman’s theatrical vocals. Coleman remains a striking - some might say terrifying presence and songs like Requiem, Eighties, Wardance and Pandemonium highlighted just how much of an influence Killing Joke have been on bands like Nine Inch Nails, Metallica and Jane’s Addiction to name but a few.

York Press: Killing Joke on stage at Leeds Arena. Photo by Dave LawrenceKilling Joke on stage at Leeds Arena. Photo by Dave Lawrence (Image: Supplied)

Billy Idol was there at the start when punk emerged in London and his band, Generation X, released three albums before he moved stateside in the early Eighties where he was a fixture on MTV with a string of glossy music videos.

At 9pm he swaggered on to the stage with his band looking in tip-top shape and full of attitude with his spiky blond hair, black leather jacket and that magnificent lip snarl on full display.

The show was not one of finesse, we didn’t want that. Instead we got spectacular lighting, cityscape backdrops, searing guitars and choruses that begged to be sung at full volume by the audience.

Opening with the old Generation X song Dancing With Myself the show got off to a cracking start and Idol’s band, marshalled by his long-serving guitarist and song-writing collaborator Steve Stevens, were simply terrific. They took a cavernous arena, got the audience involved, and made it feel a much more intimate space.

His big US hit Cradle Of Love was followed by Flesh For Fantasy completing a fine opening trio of songs before The Cage, a new song which Idol said was written about the pandemic.

During Speed, Stevens displayed his guitar skills to great effect before Bitter Taste, a track from last years The Roadside EP shaped by Idol’s serious motorcycle accident some years ago.

Stevens was again front and centre for the ballad Eyes Without A Face which he preceded with some gorgeous acoustic playing during an extended intro to the song.

Idol orchestrated the audience along to Tommy James & The Sondells’ Mony Mony as the band gave us a grunge-rock version as Stevens and fellow guitarist Billy Morrison strutted across the elevated platform on stage.

York Press: Billy Idol on stage in Leeds. Photo by Dave LawrenceBilly Idol on stage in Leeds. Photo by Dave Lawrence (Image: Supplied)

After Runnin’ From The Ghost, a new ballad in which Idol deals with past addictions and their constant siren call, the performance moved up another gear with the Generation X song One Hundred Punks before which Idol reminisced about playing in Leeds during the punk years at F Club events.

Blue Highway merged into that classic Top Gun Anthem and another showcase for Stevens’ playing. Idol then said “it’s that time of the night when there are only two words to say” before the band kicked into Rebel Yell, the audience joining in with a deafening call and response of “More, More, More!” bringing the main set to a mighty close.

A three-song encore began with Rebel Like You and a cover of the Heartbreakers’ Born To Lose, before arguably his most famous song. The audience erupted during White Wedding as a barrage of white spotlights shone around all parts of the stage and arena bringing a glorious evening’s music to a close.