Tag Archive: Utilita Arena


*** Apologies for the lateness of this review. Covid came calling. *** 

It’s hard to describe Billie Eilish’s musical style: Ethereal, gothic, pop, dark pop. I can’t label it, and I don’t think you should. If anything, the correct term would be unique.

Billie Eilish

I came across Billie in 2019 after hearing a recommendation from Dave Grohl, and who was I to question the judgement of a rock god. So, I purchased the Don’t Smile at Me EP (All but an album itself) and after an eager wait, the first full release; When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? And I secured tickets for her first arena tour. Brilliant. Then Covid came cancelling and a huge wait. Since then, a Bond theme (and an Oscar), plus a further album, Happier Than Ever, has established the still 20-year-old as one of the biggest acts on the planet so when tickets went on sale again for 2022, I was first in the queue.

The set was simple. Huge stage with just brother/song writing partner, Finneas O’Connell, plus drummer, Andrew Marshall present; it gave more focus to the star of the show. There were some backing track vocals, but this was always going to be the case as many of Eilish’s songs are double tracked and more. But the main force was live to profound effect.

Kicking off with an explosive entrance, we had Bury a Friend, followed by I Didn’t Change My Number and immediately, the audience were captive of the magic and energy Billie Eilish releases. Everyone lapped it up, including me. You could call it hypnotism at times. It was how I like to enjoy gigs, immersed and totally lost in the experience.

Billie Eilish—Utilita Areana Birmingham—15 June 2022 © Antony N Britt 2022

There are so many good numbers: You Should See Me in a Crown, My Strange Addiction, When the Party’s Over, NDA, Oxytocin, and not forgetting cameos of older hits like Bellyache and Ocean Eyes. A history of dancing injuries and sporting kinesiology tape, this didn’t stop Eilish giving a massive energetic performance which she seemed to enjoy as much as the audience. Billie Eilish is refreshing. There are no airs and graces, she is not full of herself, and clearly takes no shit, often concerned for people struggling in the crush of an audience.

Billie Eilish—Utilita Areana Birmingham—15 June 2022 © Antony N Britt 2022

My top numbers of the night were Getting Older, Bad Guy, and especially the finale of Happier Than Ever, a song which is my current favourite tune of the moment. And there were others that I found a love for which I hadn’t thought of before. In this case, Lost Cause, which I cannot stop singing now.

Billie Eilish—Utilita Areana Birmingham—15 June 2022 © Antony N Britt 2022

It’s easy to see why Eilish is so popular with both audiences and peers. There is an honesty and stripped-back approach to the music that makes it pure. And there is something in the lyrics which not only resonate with the young, but also oldies like me. It was also wonderful to relive the experience with an identical set broadcast on TV from Glastonbury a week later. I was still buzzing, and it took me back to that wonderful night.

One of the best gigs I have ever been to. Here’s to many more. 

Cheers.

Antony N Britt 

Debbie Harry is nearly 77. Seventy-seven, God-dammit! I don’t know if that makes her old or me feel it. You see, 45 years ago, when I first discovered Blondie, I was barely fourteen years old myself. Once again, I am blessed that Blondie, like many of my favourite rock bands, are still about. I must have good taste for longevity. Okay, so due to Chris Steins’ ill-health, there were only two original members on stage: Debbie Harry and the brilliant Clem Burke on drums. But we also had Glen Matlock on bass, which was a bonus for me and the rock alumni of 1977.

Kicking off where it all began with X-Offender, a packed arena went back in time and unless you were in the first few rows (as I was) you’d be hard pressed to believe you were not seeing the band at their height during that era.

Harry hasn’t lost it a bit. Sure, after a handful of numbers, the heels had to come off as in her own words, she needed to get serious. But to still do a high-energy set lasting almost two hours is incredible.

We listened to hit after hit, but inexplicably, not Denis. That didn’t matter, and it was only afterwards I realised it had been omitted. There are so many more in the catalogue to rave about. Not just the early years, but from the post 1998 revival: Maria, My Monster, What I Heard, Long Time, Mother and best of all, one of my favourites, No Exit. All greeted with similar Rapture as the song of the same name.

But you also had the classics: Sunday Girl, Picture This, Dreaming, Call Me, Atomic, Heart of Glass … the list goes on. I was also overjoyed to hear Fade Away and Radiate in such an incredible set.

Save the best until last, Blondie finished with One Day or Another, a song so massive and popular, but never a single in the UK (until it charted digitally in 2013). This is the measure of a great song. No mainstream release but instantly recognisable.

The euphoria of the audience swept through the arena in one of the best gigs I have seen. Yes, even at that age, Harry rocks. Whereas myself and my partner (late 50s) hobbled back to the car afterwards, near unable to walk. Whatever Debbie Harry has, I’ll take some myself. Brilliant.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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