MELBOURNE SHOW REVIEW

Review: Billy Idol – March 24, 2015, Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Harry Williams, thedwarf.com.au

“A lengthy atmospheric instrumental intro and then suddenly he [Billy Idol] runs out of the darkness and onto one of three risers and there he is, bouncing around. The spritely punk is back, as youthful, buffed and boisterous as ever. Resplendent in trademark leathers, with his attitude, ego, sneer and trademark yelps at the ready…

OA lengthy atmospheric instrumental intro and then suddenly he runs out of the darkness and onto one of three risers and there he is, bouncing around. The spritely punk is back, as youthful, buffed and boisterous as ever. Resplendent in trademark leathers, with his attitude, ego, sneer and trademark yelps at the ready.

Opening proceedings with new cut ‘Postcards from the Past’ from Idol’s new album ‘Kings & Queens of The Underground’, his ever-present maestro and co-conspirator for over 30 years, virtuoso Steve Stevens quickly establishes himself as master of the stage and it is glaringly obvious just why he has been the absolute linchpin of Billy Idol’s career. On second song, ‘Cradle of Love’ he is a virtual one man blitzkrieg. He effortlessly controls the momentum of the show with his monster riffs but at the same time magically embellishes the brutishness of each song with sparkling sonic subtleties – deft touches of masterful detailing that effortlessly elevate each track to another level again.

Billy implores “Melbourne to DANCE!” on old Generation X fave ‘Dancing with Myself’ and the audience gleefully respond in kind.

As Stevens continues the assault and sprays the floor with the unmistakable staccato salvos of ‘Flesh for Fantasy’, the audience are once again in raptures and transported immediately straight back to 1983. This ecstasy is only then trumped by Billy – who with back coyly turned to the audience beguilingly changes his top at the foot of the drum riser. The girls all swoon. Idol’s vocal delivery is fittingly gorgeously warm and sultry and the first of tonight’s high water marks is reached.

Quite unexpectedly, Billy broadsides the audience who are not expecting to hear any really early material and trots out a second Generation X favourite in the form of ‘Ready Steady Go’ – the crowd go completely ballistic.

Then it’s time to slow things down a little and next is a gorgeously sensitive rendering of ‘Sweet Sixteen’. Billy intros this on acoustic guitar with a whispered recount of his inspiration for the song. After the first verse, Stevens chimes in and again takes the sublime track to another level. Another extended blues intro styling by Stevens signals an even mellower interpretation of a melody that is vaguely familiar. Turns out it’s ‘Eyes Without A Face’. 1983 all over again.

Time to ramp things up a notch and what follows is nothing short of spectacular.

Idol: “we’ve now got a couple of mates who are coming up to join us on stage for this next one… it’s Robin and Rick from Cheap Trick’.

The tricksters are obviously thrilled to be sharing the stage with both Idol & Stevens and Rick looks like a kid in a candy shop as he trades licks with Steve on an extended and epically riotous version of The Doors’ ‘LA Woman’, renamed just for tonight to ‘Melbourne Woman’. It seems to go forever and like another little boy brimming with exuberance Idol runs from one player to another, willing each on to even greater heights.

After that workout, it’s now time for another quick breather and Steve takes center stage alone and plays a five minute interlude showcasing his breathtaking artistry. A spanish solo with flamenco stylings, coupled with a ‘Stairway To Heaven’ gag which draws hearty laughs from the fans and then the full band are back and it’s into the final stretch of the show.

‘Whiskey and Pills’ and ‘Blue Highway’ follow. The drummer goes completely mental at the song’s conclusion with arms flailing and drumsticks going in all directions. One actually catches in the curtain above his head where it remains suspended for the rest of the show. There are very some ‘Spinal Tappish’ moments here and during songs Billy throws out paper plates, drumsticks and signed copies of the setlist (a few of which are whipped over his sweaty torso before he dispatches them into the adoring audience).

By this stage of the night, there is really only a few remaining things to be said as Billy launches into ‘Rebel Yell’. Of course, the place goes nuts. The roof is set to lift off. All the impact of the original is reproduced here and the audience duly reflect it back to the band in appreciation – Billy revels in the moment. A quick encore break backstage for a breather and then he saunters back on stage with Steve. Ever the Jester, Billy addresses the audience and then Steve in turn…
“ I’d just like to thank STEVE STEVENS for making my life… so @#$%^&* incredible… thank YOU!… and now Steve, can you please show the audience what a hit song sounds like?”

The immortal intro to ‘White Wedding’ ensues and we are off once again for the final time. After nearly two hours of high energy Idol he finishes up with ‘Mony Mony’ and is still bouncing around as he laddishly introduces the band and then farewells the audience. Exceeding expectation, this was a set consummately delivered with all the power of the original.

Setlist:
Postcards from the Past
Cradle of Love
Can’t Break Me Down
Dancing With Myself (Generation X song)
Flesh for Fantasy
Save Me Now
Ready Steady Go (Generation X song)
Sweet Sixteen
Eyes Without a Face
Melbourne Woman (aka L.A. Woman)
(The Doors cover) (with Robin Zander & Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick)
Interlude (Steve Stevens Guitar Solo)
Whiskey and Pills
Blue Highway
Rebel Yell

Encore:
White Wedding
Mony Mony


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