It’s the most packed I’ve ever seen The Fillmore. Or, perhaps I usually arrive much earlier and am in the front row, unaware of what is going on behind me. I’m only able to stand in about the 10th row, and it sucks. Damn, I am spoiled.
Billy Idol is an icon: the spiky white blond hair, those lips, great bone structure. At 52, he’s kept it up quite well. In this hit laden evening, he manages to do about 8 ‘costume’ changes- sporting different shirts each time. He plays some good air guitar and drums- and would probably beat many of last night’s competitors. There’s lots of fist pumps and dancing around. He’s energetic, and makes a lot of eye contact with the audience, pointing at people further back in the crowd, handing out drumsticks. His voice is still phenomenal, showing no age.
Steve Stevens may have impressed me more than Billy Idol. His guitar work was mesmerizing, his instruments works of art. He was very showy- playing behind his head and doing the round the world strums.
The setlist was phenomenal- hit after hit they laid it all out on the table, letting the crowd have what they wanted. They did some acoustic arrangements for some of the songs- including White Wedding, which was kinda cool only because they finished it up plugged in. He also customized Hot in the City and LA Woman for San Francisco. Eyes Without a Face might be my favorite Billy Idol song, but it doesn’t sound as great live.
The first thing Billy said to the crowd was interesting. He said that the first time he performed in SF, it was 1978, and he was on methadryl. I don’t know what methadryl is, but it sounds pretty hardcore.
The crowd was full of assholes. It seemed like date night- lots of girls dressed up in heels with big bags that kept hitting me as they walked by….which was about every other song. Seriously, people kept coming and going the whole night. And they talked to each other during the quieter songs. Do you really need to discuss such-and-such during Sweet Sixteen? I mean, come on.
The show ended with an extended version of Mony Mony, where the drummer was replaced by some other dude so he could play guitar, and the keyboardist also joined them on guitar. Billy Idol also had a guitar- so there were five strings up there. It was pretty impressive. Stevens and the drummer had a guitar duel- where they did the dueling banjos style play-off, which climaxed with them doing the fingerwork on each others guitars. I hadn’t seen that before.
It was 1 and a half hours of blissful nostalgia. And to top it off, we got posters at the end. Always a plus.
Setlist (may not be in the right order):
Cradle of Love
Dancing With Myself
Flesh for Fantasy
Shock to the System
Eyes Without A Face
Hot in the City (SF Style)
Ready Steady Go
LA Woman (SF Style)
Billy Idol performance: 8.5/10
venue (The Fillmore): 8/10
value ($55.00/ticket): 6.5/10