I last saw BILLY IDOL in concert four years ago and the level of energy they had made it one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Steve Stevens, one of the most underrated guitarists around, was also at his best, which is damn good, and added a level of passion that I’ve rarely seen. So, I expected a helluva concert and the early-arriving, packed-like-sardines crowd and I got it at House of Blues Dallas.
Before they started playing, a long, tall, beautiful Texas Amazon named Susanna saw me wearing my Arkansas Razorbacks cap and we talked SEC football (she’s an LSU fan), then saw my notepad and asked if I was a reviewer. When I told her I was, she told me a great story of seeing BILLY IDOL in concert right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and how much love and support the band gave the U.S., and how she has loved him ever since.
Besides the obvious perks of being a concert reviewer, another is that pretty girls will sometimes talk to you. There were many lovely ladies in the crowd, with many of them dressed to the nines, wearing form-fitting dresses that were tighter than Saran Wrap and some so short I thought they were just wearing a belt.
We chatted until the lights dimmed and the band came onstage with no introduction and started playing “Postcards From The Past.” It only took a few notes for the almost-60-year-old to start bobbing and weaving onstage and get the crowd excited. The woman sitting in front of me made me realize how great it must be to be a rock star when I overheard her tell her husband, “That black leather he’s wearing must make him all sweaty, but I’d still do him.”
“Cradle Of Love ” was next and the crowd started a collective head bob that segued into a shoulder shimmy. Several ladies started dancing to the first hit song of the evening and looked good doing it.The singer started interacting with the crowd during “Can’t Break Me Down” and we loved it. He explored every inch of the stage with the energy of someone half his age.
Most of the audience jumped up when he mentioned his first band, GENERATION X, and the band started playing “Dancing With Myself.” They shifted into an even higher gear as the cameras came out to get pictures and videos. Steve Stevens fed off the excitement and played a solo with his guitar behind his head and Billy changed the lyrics to include “Dallas,” which made the crowd scream even louder.
With everyone pumped up, it was time for “Flesh For Fantasy,” their erstwhile anthem to porn. Mr. Idol began with a semi-striptese and the ladies, and a couple of guys, began fumbling with their purses looking for dollar bills. He’s still in great shape, but the women were disappointed when he only got shirtless, then added more leather. Chants of “Flesh” and another guitar solo ended a good jam session.
The musicians then slowed down for “Save Me Now,” which was highlighted with a classic Stevens solo while bathed in a pink floodlight. He knelt down to the crowd, who bowed to him out of respect. Billy talked to the audience about Generation X back in 1976 being a punk band, but it doesn’t sound punk anymore. “Ready Steady Go,” from this time period, was a tribute to THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES and the other artists who paved the way before them.
Paul Trudeau, the keyboardist, grabbed a guitar and Billy grabbed an acoustic for a five-headed guitar front of “Sweet Sixteen” before moving straight into “Eyes Without A Face.” Mr. Idol left the stage during a long intro to the song, but came back out wearing a leather jacket with a skull on the back that made him look like he was attending the biker’s prom. Everyone’s eyes were on the stage until a man several rows in front of me started dancing. Suggestively. Like the featured stripper at the Goose ‘N’ Giggle Club. It was funny, yet creepy at the same time.
The band then left the stage and Steve Stevens got to play a great solo. He started with a flamenco style, played part of “Roundabout,” then some LED ZEPPELIN. Just as he has always done, he timed his solo with his cigarette.
Luckily, the fire marshal didn’t jump onstage and make him put it out. I watched the members of the audience when the band played “Whiskey And Pills.” One group of girls to my right turned into headbangers while the guy directly in front of them wearing a polo shirt danced like a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robot. He’s doing okay now, but he looked like he lived this song during his younger years.
Stevens got a couple of spotlight solos during “Blue Highway,” which led into a frenzy when Billy Idol yelled two words – “Rebel Yell.” The crowd went apeshit crazy during the extended version of the song. “Rebel Yell” includes one of the great guitar solos of all time, further igniting the crowd that raised the decibel level when Billy stripped off his T-shirt and threw it, thanking us and ending the set. The intensity stayed just as high until Billy and Steve came back for the encore. Those two performed the beginning of “White Wedding” and the other musicians came back to turn it into a hard-charging rock and roll song. Erik Eldenius then launched into a drum solo that just kicked it. I always love drum solos, but everyone in the venue joined me in appreciating this one.
The show came to an end, but not before their raucous version of “Mony Mony” by TOMMY JAMES AND THE SHONDELLS. It turned into a dance party, a headbangers ball and a floor show all rolled into one.
Stevens grabbed a blue-lit guitar, Idol was doing topless jumping jacks and the crowd was shaking their collective moneymakers until the concert ended with Billy’s traditional Tarzan yell. The crowd didn’t want to leave and many of us lingered and talked music. I also got to talk to A.J. Verel, a Hall-Of-Fame Pro Martial Arts/MMA fighter who is such a well-rounded person, interesting to talk to and had some great stories to tell.
The band was tight and played so well together and off each other. Steve Stevens was absolutely lights out on the guitar, as always, and he and Billy have a great chemistry between them. They’ve played together so long that they feed off each other.
Erik Eldenius on drums stole the show a couple of times. I’d never heard of him before, but I sure remember his name now. Paul Trudeau was excellent on keyboards and guitar and gave them a sound that made each song complete. Billy Morrison wasn’t flashy on rhythm guitar, but he complemented Steve Stevens for a great sound. Stephen McGrath was fun to watch as the large, left-handed bass player had a lot of fun bouncing around and laying down the groove.
It was a great night for everyone. The House of Blues staff was helpful and accommodating and the venue was in great shape. The crowd was jazzed, enthusiastic and knowledgeable and the music was excellent. Every single person I talked to or heard when leaving had a great time. That’s a winning combination for a rock and roll show.
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS
LIVE PHOTOS: GUZPIX