The Joint; Hard Rock Hotel and Casino; Las Vegas, NV; 12/28/99
Reviewed by Jennifer Reynolds
“Steal a car and go to Las Vegas oh, the gigolo pool…” -“Eyes Without A Face”
A near-capacity crowd waited anxiously for the house lights to go down last night in Las Vegas. Women in blue hair and too-tight metallic dresses milled restlessly about the auditorium, swimming like silvery fish through leather-clad men to reach the bar. It was almost 8:30 p.m. by the time Billy Idol, back again with famed guitarist Steve Stevens, burst onto the stage at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Even with no opening act, Idol had fans in a frenzy by the end of his “Cradle of Love” opening number. The front row was alive with long-time listeners and during “Dancing With Myself” Idol, with a gracious smile, paused to sign albums and collect roses from fans.
It was a pleasure to see that Billy didn’t forget his early days, either. With his third song, “Ready, Steady, Go,” he brought back memories of Generation X, the late 70’s punk band he fronted with John Towe, Bob Andrews and Tony James (later of the Clash).
Performing all his best hits, from a rousing “White Wedding” to “Rebel Yell,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “Flesh for Fantasy” and the encore song, “Mony, Mony,” Idol and his band delivered like true professionals. With Sasha Krivtsov on bass and Tal Bergman on drums completing the foursome, the band cranked through their set with an electrifying sound and spirit. Billy made even such famous cover songs as The Doors’ “L.A. Woman” completely his own.
In a black, long-sleeve T-shirt and his trademark spiky hair, Idol looked to be in good health and more like the biker he is now, rather than the punker we all remember him to be. Both he and Stevens seemed well-rested, energetic, and sexy as always.
One question I have to ask, though, is whatever happened to Billy’s bad-boy reputation? In the 80s, I had always heard rumors about how our star could be so difficult to deal with, for the press as well as the fans. Rumors about how his attitude toward women was less than generous. Perhaps these were nothing more than urban legends created in the midst of a media hype, or maybe the rocker’s hard-ass attitude has just mellowed a bit over the years. Whatever the case may be, his stage presence and raw energy have not suffered in the least. As a photographer, I have not had the pleasure of shooting a more attentive or easy-going performer. I also learned from friends that earlier that evening he had taken time from his sound check to sign autographs and talk with fans. It is great to see that no matter what may have happened in the past, Idol now seems to handle his fame with grace and professionalism.
Billy plays 1999 Tempe Fiesta Bowl Block Party with Sugar Ray and several other bands on New Year’s Eve. If any of you live in the southwest and have a chance, go! It will be all the good stuff you remember from Billy with an energy and rock and roll spirit you will not soon forget.
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Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:17 -0400.