Billy Idol makes a triumphant return to Vancouver

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      At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Thursday, February 12

      You've got to give Billy Idol credit. For a guy whose career peaked roughly three decades ago, he's hanging in there incredibly well. There's little flab on the 59-year-old's tanned bod, and his vocal cords are in fine shape too. Judging by his recent album, Kings and Queens of the Underground, he hasn't lost his knack for catchy tunes. And then there's that Elvis-like sneer, which still suits his baby face, weathered though it is from all the years of hard living.

      But a lot of what made Billy Idol so great at his Queen E. show last night had more to do with the guy on his right, the raven-haired guitarist with the endless array of super-sparkly Les Pauls. Steve Stevens—who's been Idol's musical mainman, on and off, since 1981—is still the six-string fireball whose intense riffing puts the rebel in Idol's yell.

      Steve Newton

      Stevens had plenty of chances to steal the spotlight from his spiky-haired boss during the 18-song set, which opened with "Postcards from the Past", a track from Kings and Queens that owes a lot to the surging vibe of Idol's massive 1983 hit, "Rebel Yell". After a rollicking rendition of the Doors' "L.A. Woman"—which Idol had covered on his 1990 Charmed Life album—Stevens took an extended solo that was mainly a flamenco-style workout with tiny bits of Yes's "Roundabout" and Led Zeppelin's "Over the Hills and Far Away" thrown in. A few notes from "Stairway to Heaven" garnered the obligatory hoots and hollers.

      Stevens wasn't the only one making a serious guitar noise though, as rhythm player Billy Morrison—who cowrote several tracks on Idol's latest disc—was solid throughout. And at certain points keyboardist Paul Trudeau left his post at the back of the stage to grab a Gibson and make it a whopping 18 strings-worth of heavily amped goodness. The rhythm section of bassist Stephen McGrath and drummer Erik Eldenius performed admirably as well.

      The night wasn't all frivolity and fun, however, as Idol took a moment to dedicate his pretty 1987 single "Sweet Sixteen" to his dear friend, '80s new-wave icon Steve Strange, who just hours earlier had passed away in his sleep at the age of 55.

      After that solemn respite it didn't take long to get the party restarted, though. Despite losing his buddy, Idol appeared to be having the time of his life, whether churning out raucous new tracks ("Whiskey and Pills") or old numbers from his late-'70s group Generation X ("King Rocker"). He gleefully spun a dozen or so frisbee-like discs into the crowd before signing an assertive fan's copy of his new self-penned autobiography, Dancing With Myself.

      For the encore Idol offered up his 1982 smash hit "White Wedding"—which threw the sold-out crowd into quite a tizzy—then topped things off with his well-known cover of Tommy James and the Shondells' 1968 garage-rock gem, "Mony Mony". 

      Comments

      9 Comments

      Peter Davies

      Feb 13, 2015 at 7:03am

      A fantastic show, with Idol showing his great vocal range, and energy to burn! The whole band put on a great act like second to none, and of course the lead guitar Steve Stevens wizardry.

      out at night

      Feb 13, 2015 at 4:39pm

      Terrific show, crowd, vibe, venue. Billy looks and sounds pretty fucking good for a man about to turn 60. Remember when we snickered at rock stars turning 40?

      James Blatchford

      Feb 13, 2015 at 10:21pm

      @out at night....actually, Billy was snickered at long before 40. How do you think his faux punk act played in Camden? Hilarious he was.

      Joan Broad

      Feb 15, 2015 at 7:56am

      Would have loved tto hear Steves Flaminco style riffs

      Im sure it was a wonderful nightAnig

      ht to remember

      out at night

      Feb 15, 2015 at 2:08pm

      @ James Blatchford

      Well y'know Billy Idol earned the friendship and respect of Johnny Thunders, so if being a tight buddy of the original punk rocker himself isn't good enough for the Camden crowd then they can all go retroactively fuck off. Remember, England didn't invent rock and roll or even punk rock. There was a time when it was just music and you didn't have to be this or that to get in on the action. If some Camden Town scenesters came up with a Stalinist set of how-to-be-a-punk rules (to borrow Joe Strummer's description of what the London scene was like in its heyday) then give Billy Idol credit for not giving a shit. His music is kind of shallow, apolitical and the (memorable, catchy, energizing) hits are mixed with a fair bit of filler on even his best albums. He also put on a great show to an appreciative and decidedly un-stuck-up audience last Thursday. You were not invited.

      James Blatchford

      Feb 16, 2015 at 2:18pm

      Out at night - right, and some folks like 7 Up with their Chardonnay...nothing accounts for some peoples taste. Glad you had a good time.

      out at night

      Feb 17, 2015 at 10:42am

      Chardonnay with 7Up eh? Hmmmm, might try that...

      Pat Crowe

      Feb 18, 2015 at 7:19am

      @James Blatchford,,,"faux punk act"?
      Now that's an oxymoron.
      Ever heard of Green Day?

      Martin Dunphy

      Feb 18, 2015 at 2:30pm

      Oh, Pat, now you're gonna get the Greenies going.