Killing Joke – The perfect post-punk sandwich filler between 80s pop punk legends

Music fans old and new have flocked to their material, attended live shows and the band seem able to slot seamlessly into concert and festival line-ups with ease, complimenting artists of all genres and not feeling at all out of place.

Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media (C) 

Midweek in North London and the OVO Arena, Wembley and the stars are out in force. Post-punk pioneers Killing Joke, who, over the last decade or so have experienced a huge resurgence in popularity thanks not only to some excellent studio releases but also to the recognition that they’ve inspired so many artists over the last 40 years. Music fans old and new have flocked to their material, attended live shows and the band seem able to slot seamlessly into concert and festival line-ups with ease, complimenting artists of all genres and not feeling at all out of place.

On paper, a Killing Joke sandwich filler between the baguette of pop punk royalty that is Toyah and Billy Idol seems like an odd choice. However when you dig deep into the history of all three acts, it soon becomes obvious that this actually was a perfect blend and, subject to suitable deep cuts from Toyah and Billy, a mix of punk and industrial magic would be a welcome one. 

Toyah

With only a short set afforded to her, Toyah and her band hit the stage running with a superb rendition of 1981’s ‘Thunder in the Mountains’. One of her biggest hits in the UK, the cover artwork remains, for me at least, the definitive look for Toyah. It sums up perfectly the move between punk and new-wave and presents the artist at her most adventurous. 

Of course a Toyah show wouldn’t be a Toyah show if she didn’t appear to the poppier , more commercial side of her career so both the cover of ‘Echo Beach’ and the classic ‘It’s A Mystery’ bookend one of her greats ‘Good Morning Universe’. It doesn’t matter whether you appreciate early Toyah, classic pop Toyah or, more recently, the Sunday Brunch lockdown videos that have become a viral hit with husband Robert Fripp. There’s something for everyone and the short set goes down a storm with the willing and eager crowd in the arena. 

We absolutely need to see acts like Toyah whilst they’ve got the energy to perform to this level. Long may she reign supreme. 

  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Toyah, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021

 SETLIST

Thunder in the Mountains
Echo Beach (Martha and the Muffins cover)
Good Morning Universe
It’s a Mystery
Neon Womb
Space Dance
I Want to Be Free

Killing Joke

For a band that has influenced artists such as Metallica, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden, as noted above, they may at first seem to be an unusual choice on the bill. But when you look back at Billy Idol’s roots and Toyah’s, then it’s clear the artists were all cut from the same cloth. Angry, passionate, opinionated and looking for an outlet to spread their messages about disaffected youth and society, there truly has never been a better time to listen to the gospel as written by these punk rock legends.

After the bright lights and up tempo vibe of Toyah, the stage for Killing Joke was swathed in a sea of red. If ever their intention was unclear, the band arrived an immediately launched into ‘Unspeakable’ , from 1981’s ‘What’s THIS For…!’ This is what we wanted. Uncompromising bite, verve and energy and with follow up ‘Wardance’ from the band’s debut proving that the band have lost none of their bite in the intervening years. 

Whilst original members Paul Ferguson, Geordie Walker and Youth deliver the goods as expected, it’s down to frontman and resident chaos demon, Jaz Coleman to prowl the stage and terrify the elderly in the front few rows of the arena. Many thought they’d come for some pop-rock tunes from the 80’s such as ‘It’s a Mystery’ and ‘White Wedding’ but the cherry on the top of the cake that they didn’t even know they needed came in the shape of Killing Joke. 

If people hoped for a reprieve with the band’s more commercial work, then tracks like ‘Love Like Blood’ remained absent from the set. ‘Eighties’ made an appearance though and that for me really ticks a box when played live. 

Whilst the bars filled by the time the band finished, it wasn’t a lack of appreciation for Killing Joke, more a need to steady the nerves after their set before the king-rocker, Billy Idol arrived. 

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  • 2022 10 19 Killing Joke-9
  • 2022 10 19 Killing Joke-25
  • Killing Joke, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • 2022 10 19 Killing Joke-15
  • 2022 10 19 Killing Joke-16
  • 2022 10 19 Killing Joke-18
  • 2022 10 19 Killing Joke-24
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  • 2022 10 19 Killing Joke-23

 SETLIST

Unspeakable
Wardance
The Fall of Because
Requiem
Butcher
Eighties
Change
Loose Cannon
The Wait
Pssyche
Pandemonium

Billy Idol

With a couple of Generation X songs plus personal favourite ‘Flesh For Fantasy’, I could have gone home early sated and totally satisfied with what I’d seen Billy Idol do o stage at Wembley. 

However, there’s no denying the boy (for he still looks 100x better than me without a shirt on as ably proven at the end of song 2 in the set) has a tune or two in his repertoire and all of the crowd pleasers for those of us who remember Mr Idol’s 80s heyday were rolled out to an eager crowd. 

If the intensity of Killing Joke’s set had unsettled a few of the unsuspecting punters in the arena, then Billy Idol’s set placed them firmly back inside their comfort zone thanks to the likes of ‘Eyes Without A Face’, ‘Mony Mony’, ‘Rebel Yell’ and of course the hit played by every wedding band for years.. ‘White Wedding’. 

Thanks to the ever popular presence of Idol’s guitar genius, Steve Stevens, the man who gives every single one of the tracks on offer an edge his peers are simply unable to do, the performance came across very much as a sum of the parts rather than a reliance just on Billy with a series of session musicians. Stevens and Idol are the perfect pairing that mirror the likes of Tyler / Perry , Jagger / Richards and other famous duos. At this stage in his career, it’s almost impossible to imagine Billy up on stage without the colourful guitar god next to him. 

It’s that pairing that makes for the perfect show. Billy’s voice might not be as strong as it was almost 40 years ago but then again whose is? Instead what we expected and what we got was pure entertainment with songs to sing along to and judging by the smiles of the exiting punters after the show, people got what they wanted. 

  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021
  • Billy Idol, Wembley Arena, October 19 2021

 SETLIST

Dancing With Myself (Generation X song)
Cradle of Love
Flesh for Fantasy
Cage
Speed
Bitter Taste
Eyes Without a Face
Mony Mony (Tommy James & the Shondells cover)
Runnin’ From the Ghost
One Hundred Punks (Generation X song)
Blue Highway
Rebel Yell
Encore:
Rebel Like You
Born to Lose (The Heartbreakers cover)
White Wedding

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