Billy Idol: Live In Vancouver July 12, 2005

Spread the metal:

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Vancouver, BC  Canada

***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

If anyone is looking for the fountain youth, just ask Billy Idol.  While the 50-year old rocker is certainly beginning to look older, physically, he is in the shape of a man half his age.  The female fans in attendance of Tuesday?s concert were more than appreciative of Idol?s willingness to sex it up on stage, too.  Idol frequently lifted his shirt and allowed the stream of rabid women to touch, rub, fondle, and at one point lick his sweaty torso, but the loudest screams came during ?White Wedding? when Idol removed his shirt.  The audience was peppered with women spanning the ages of 10-50 and I think they were all at a shortness of breath at at least one point during this show.

Overt sexuality aside, Idol and his longtime partner-in-crime, Steve Stevens (along with bassist Steve McGrath, keyboardist Derek Sherinian and drummer Brian Tichy) brought their ribald rock show back to Vancouver for the third time in the same number of years and once again, knocked Vancouver?s socks off.  Besides the trademark sneer and spiked blond hair, Idol?s claim to fame is his approachable nature.  He still holds meet-and-greets before each show and even during the show, Idol posed for photos, signed autographs (mid-song!) and shook hands with his fans.  He may be an old-school Brit punk at heart but he knows and acknowledges what has made him a star for over 25 years?his fans.

This was a night of pure Billy Idol and with no opening act or intermission, the band played for nearly 2 ? hours covering not only Idol?s extensive solo career but also touching on his early days in Generation X and rounding things out with a few surprising cover songs.  All the hits were played including ?Rebel Yell,? ?White Wedding,? ?Dancing With Myself,? and the ever-annoying ?Mony Mony,? which are exactly what most of the 2,500 fans in attendance came for.  Idol can do these songs in his sleep by now but he still shows as much enthusiasm for them as when they were still fresh fodder during the salad days of MTV.  The air punching is still intact as are the sneered vocals but I get the feeling these things are done more the benefit of the audience than for Idol himself.  Even the newer tracks from 2005?s excellent DEVIL?S PLAYGROUND album fared well, as ?Scream,? ?Rat Race,? ?Super Overdrive? and ?World Comin? Down? blended seamlessly with the rest of the set.  ?World Comin? Down? is a throwback to Idol?s early punk days in Generation X and when placed back-to-back in the set with that band?s 1978 classic ?Ready Steady Go,? a song Idol seemed amazed he had been performing on stage for 26 years, it never sounded awkward.  Not many 50-year olds could pull off a track like that without sounding ridiculous but Idol does it without fail.  In a nod to the local audience, Idol improvised the lyrics of The Doors? classic ?L.A. Woman? (?B.C. Woman?) and again during the chorus of ?Hot In The City? (?Hot in the city/Hot in Vancouver tonight?) much to the delight of fans.  Not one to settle for being a singer, Idol strapped on an acoustic guitar for ?Sweet Sixteen? and ?Mony Mony? and took several turns banging away at Tichy?s drum kit.  Tichy, formerly of Ozzy Osbourne’s band, reciprocated by leaving his drum tech behind the kit for ?Mony Mony? and displaying some serious chops in a ?shred-off? with Stevens at center stage.  Stevens looks nearly identical to his picture on the back cover of 1984?s REBEL YELL album complete with Sunset Strip glam/punk hairdo and windmill playing displayed fully on the searing solo of ?Eyes Without A Face.?  With bits and pieces taken from his own FLAMENCO A-GO-GO solo release, Stevens was given the spotlight for a 10-minute solo on an electric acoustic guitar where he slipped in a few bars of Led Zeppelin?s ?Over The Hills and Far Away.?  Former Dream Theater keyboardist, Derek Sherinian, has been part of Idol?s touring band for several years now and sadly, the only time his instrument was really prominent was during ?Rebel Yell.?  A brief solo during ?L.A. Woman? allowed Sherinian to embrace his inner Ray Manzarek, while a short passage of The Beatles? ?Norwegian Wood? could also be heard.  Sherinian?s shining moment, though, came as he broke into the instantly recognizable intro of Van Halen?s ?Jump,? a song the band had reportedly been playing during their soundchecks.  Stevens nailed the guitar solo perfectly, too, while tacking on a bit of ?Eruption? for good measure.  While ?Jump? was not on the written setlist, it paved the way for a slew of covers to be played including Elvis Presley?s ?Heartbreak Hotel? and The Who?s ?Who Are You.?  

Fans in attendance ran the gamut from punk rockers with foot-high Mohawks, to long-haired metalheads, to bikers, to horny middle-aged women, to families to one couple who went so far as to wear a white wedding dress (her) and be a dead ringer for Idol himself!  This music is timeless and Idol has never looked or sounded better than he does today.  Idol?s phoenix-like rise from 80s obscurity, a crippling motorcycle accident and heroin addiction is incredible and the very fact that he is still alive goes against human nature.  Doing things the old-fashioned way, Idol has increased his popularity just by touring relentlessly over the past five years and with DEVIL?S PLAYGROUND, his first album of new material since 1993, showing that he is still a formidable songwriter in 2005, Idol may be in for a yet another rise to the top of the heap.   

Super Overdrive
Dancing With Myself
Flesh For Fantasy
Body Snatcher
White Wedding
Eyes Without A Face
Sweet Sixteen
Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley cover)
Steve Stevens solo
Rat Race
L.A. Woman (The Doors cover)
Evil Eye
World Comin? Down
Ready Steady Go (Generation X cover)
Rebel Yell


Hot In The City
Jump (Van Halen cover)
Who Are You (The Who cover)
Mony Mony (Tommy James & The Shondells cover)

***Thanks to Kerry at Sanctuary Records and Tracy at Clear Channel Entertainment for the press passes.

Billy Idol official site