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Billy Idol

Show Review by Dave Dalka : 08.27.2003

Photos by Lyle A. Waisman

The Rebel has still got it!

The crowd at the August Billy Idol shows in Chicago was quite into reliving the memories. A few older couples at the show were there acting like they were teenagers, almost completely ignoring the show lost in "rediscovery". Some people might make the mistake of saying this was because the show was not good, but this started well before the show started, so I spent time considering the meaning. I concluded that it is likely that some people yearn to be transported back to a not too distant ago time where music with catchy lyrics and guitar hooks that stood out was appreciated and warmly received by radio.

Indeed, Billy Idol, were he to record some of the new and quite interesting songs he showcased with much energy like "Man in a Killbox" or "Stranger in my Skin" that received great fan response at this show would be hard pressed to get radio airplay for them in today's environment. Alternative would likely deem it not "new or hip" and Active Rock would most likely deem it not hard enough. Why the FCC hasn't expanded the number of radio frequencies when over the past decade when cable channels have grown exponentially like rabbits is one of the great tragedies of our day - likely cutting the time allotted such deserving and worthy artists as Billy Idol to a window that is all too short. It doesn't have to be that way.

This lack of radio presence makes the choice of no opening band all the more surprising, there are many young and upcoming artists that would give their right arm to play in front of a Billy Idol audience and they would bring in some fans there that otherwise would not attend the show. The show opened with Billy strutting onto the stage for an audience that wasn't really warmed up and therefore was rather flat while Billy performed his first song. In the future, I would highly recommend that an opening act be inserted as the benefits outlined above would be provided.

A person who has never seen Billy Idol live in concert should do so on this tour - not only for the large accumulation of staple songs that were performed well with nice deviations and tempo changes to draw one in with the talented and accomplished band he was touring with - but because you get an appreciation of one of the things that made it all possible - Steve Stevens. Over time, Steve has written some amazing rock-based guitar licks that complement Billy's punkish style. It also makes Billy Idol a unique entity that amazingly has never been ripped off or properly replicated - virtually all of the bands roaming around in the early 21st century that are considered punk would be blown off the stage in a guitar contest with Steve Stevens. The high point of the show for me was when Steve playing an amazingly long, captivating acoustic guitar solo as a great segue into an amazing version of "Don't Need a Gun". One could argue this should have been placed closer to the end of the show, but this is a minor point.

Overall, the 2003 version of Billy Idol, even without the few tweaks suggested above, is an amazing and captivating experience that exceeded my expectations for it and it would likely be enjoyed by both fans and casual observers alike.

Billy Idol Setlist
01 Cradle of Love
02 Dancing with Myself
03 Flesh for Fantasy
04 Man in the Killbox
05 Stranger in my Skin
06 White Wedding
07 Sweet Sixteen
08 Walk the Line
09 Beautiful Life
10 To be a Lover
11 Eyes Without a Face
12 Acoutsic Guitar Solo
13 Don't Need a Gun
14 Blue Highway
15 Ready Steady Go
E1 Hot in the City
E2 Mony Mony
E3 LA Woman

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