Artist: Billy Idol
Venue: Hammerstein Ballroom (New York, NY)
Label: Virgin Music
I had a such a blast the last time that Billy Idol came through town and when he announced that he would be coming back to the Hammerstein Ballroom again I knew I wanted to be there but alas could not based on the band Kamelot and their long awaited return to NYC and US regional touring. Sadly, the reports started coming in with only weeks before the tour that their lead singer Khan was ill and would not make the tour. Initially a replacement would be in the band but it would not be long before the entire tour was cancelled. With the free night now at hand I quickly arranged the means to be a part of the show being held by the legendary New Wave Punker.
At the last show Billy was supporting the release of a very solid Greatest Hits package that also featured a DVD of his classic videos. There was no new album to speak of but he did do a concert DVD entitled “Live Super Overdrive” and I had reviewed it on the site when it came out. It was a good one, but chopped up in terms of content proving that it was not the best representation of such a man in concert. If you must have this piece then buy it but be sure to get yourself tickets to a show while he is still doing it because he rocks. As soon as he hit the stage after what seemed to be no opening band, Billy was on the move and delivering his seminal hit from Generation X with “Ready, Steady, Go” which was a total surprise this early in the evening. The surprises kept coming as “Dancing With Myself” followed this one and I am sure left a lot of the fully packed house in shock since this is generally the second to last tune for the musician. Hey there is nothing wrong with getting the party started early and keeping the audience moving from the very beginning. No one was dancing with themselves in this venue at all and that was only a sign of better things to come.
The band was of course Steve Stevens on lead guitar with Stephen McGrath on bass, Derek Sherinian on keyboards, with Billy Morrison on rhythm guitar. The drums were delivered to perfection this time around by Jeremy Colson who seems to have replaced Brian Tichy on the throne. Tichy is a very busy drummer to say the least so I am sure he is up to something that is equally cool. Billy just keeps the set moving and does not do a lot of talking to the crowd which actually surprised me. Could it be that the Mod Rocker prefers to let his music do the talking nowadays? That is very likely. I made my way up to the mezzanine level of the gigantic venue to see what the crowd was like down below me and it was packed to the doors which was awesome. The last time around it was crowded but not this much so I was very happy to see this being the case for Billy. One cannot argue that he deserves such attention. The set continued to deliver a few tracks that I was not 100% up on and while I did stop following his album output many years ago there was always the chance to enjoy any new tunes via official channels and his website. “Eyes Without A Face” slowed things down a little too much for me but it’s a good tune and I just love the way he does “LA Woman” by The Doors. This tune led us to the guitar solo by Steve Stevens which featured some of Gary Moore’s “Over The Hills and Far Away” and a taste of “Stairway To Heaven”. Honestly I expected a little more creativity from such a musician than those safer demonstrations.
Two more Generation X tunes came up with “King Rocker” and “Running With The Boss Sound” and I don’t think that he had done that many of their tunes in a single concert in a while. Perhaps the singer is trying to test to waters about a possible Generation X revisit. Stranger things have happened in Rock and Roll and bands that one never thought they would see again and appearing as if out of the ether. Only time will tell if this assumption could be truth. I would check it out for sure if it happens since I like the stuff I heard over the years. After this final GX tune we got a high powered dose of tunes that most people love from Billy. He began with “Blue Highway” which has always been one of my favorites from his “Rebel Yell” album and he followed with the title from that very album. The floor was like a living thing and the people in the seats up above were on their feet for the most part. It’s really hard to sit down when the singer requests “more”, “more”, “more” from you after all. “White Wedding” was great and led us to a brief drum solo and when the notes of “Mony, Mony” began I knew we were heading into the close of the night. I love the singers rendition of the Tommy James tune but I really still cannot deal with the fact that he now adds “get laid, get f**ked” to it. I think I mentioned first hearing this in a bar a couple of decades ago and somehow the singer has decided it wise to employ this into his no need with tampering version. Billy I implore you to leave this angle to the fans in the crowd and not do it from on the stage. It’s unbecoming of a proper English gentlemen and trust me you are no less the Rock star by excluding this bit of nonsense.
I loved the show but did feel that we had too many guitar interlude segments from Stevens. Mind you I love his playing but we didn’t need to have little guitar lead in’s everywhere you turned. I guess Billy needed the few moments to catch his breath or grab some water. I do know that it gets hot up on the stage and this kind of performance is surely grueling on one’s body. Beyond that I cannot wait to see him perform again as he is so good. If you see his name listed in your town’s upcoming events be sure to get your tickets early as he delivers like few others do.
1. Ready, Steady, Go (GX)
2. Dancing with Myself (GX)
3. Love Is Strange
5. Sweet Sixteen
6. Scarred For Life
7. Eyes Without A Face
8. Kings And Queens Of The Underground
9. L.A. Woman (Doors)
10. Stevens Guitar Solo (Over The Hills an Far Away, Stairway)
11. King Rocker (GX)
12. Running With The Boss Sound (GX)
13. Blue Highway
14. Rebel Yell
15. White Wedding
16. Drum Solo
17. Mony, Mony (Tommy James & Shondells)
Official Website: http://www.billyidol.com