For many, the past 30 years have been a struggle as we all do our best to combat the aging process. Over three decades removed from his MTV-infused heyday, Monday night March 13th a SOLD OUT crowd packed into the House of Blues Anaheim to catch a rare SoCal appearance by rocker Billy Idol. It was clear that he apparently has found a way to turn back the clock both physically and vocally. From the first song “Shock To The System” Idol showed that he still has the chops to entertain a packed room.
With no opening act and an 8:15pm start time, it was obvious that it would be an early evening for all in attendance. Idol immediately went to work on his trademark snarl and by the end of the second song “Dancing With Myself” everyone had already lost count of the enthusiastic fist pumps that he supplied.
Maintaining a similar physique and patented spiked blonde hair that he rocked back in the 1980s, Idol stripped down to a black vest and see through black shirt prior to “Flesh For Fantasy”. This rendition provided the packed house with some nostalgic moments and was easily a highlight of the evening. Long time guitarist Steve Stevens shredded his way through this tune, playing parts of it with his guitar behind his head.
A few new songs temporarily slowed down the history lesson but Idol made sure to mix in his greatest hits throughout the night. 1984’s “Eyes Without A Face” featured a stripped down, sit down version to begin the song but slowly morphed into the rocking classic we all know by heart. A flamenco-infused guitar solo by Stevens allowed Idol and the band to take a breather as Stevens showcased his talent.
The high energy set also included Idol tossing a dozen frisbees into the audience prior to “Blue Highway”. He spent very little time in-between songs to chit chat with the audience, but prior to set closer “Rebel Yell” he did pause to thank the fans for making his life ‘so great’. Complete with intense lighting and a heavy guitar-laden riff provided by Stevens, Idol brought down the house with his biggest hit off the 2x platinum album of the same name.
Emerging with Stevens after a short break, Idol welcomed fans to finish many of the choral lines during the only encore song, “White Wedding”. The two turned the beginning of the song into an acoustic version that grew to include the entire band in what would be the evening’s final offering.
While Idol presented his biggest hits there were some noticeable songs missing from the 80 minute, 14 song set. “Cradle of Love”, “LA Woman”, “To Be A Lover” were all absent. Although the setlist closely mirrored that of his current House of Blues Las Vegas residency, “Mony Mony” (his normal closing song) was cut apparently at the last second as an awkward moment occurred after “White Wedding”. A rambunctious drum solo by Erik Eldenius was cut short followed by house lights that signaled the end of the evening—with Idol and bandmates leaving the stage without any acknowledgment to the crowd.
While many musicians find it difficult to remain relevant and stay in shape after 30+ years in the business, it was clear this evening that Idol still takes immense pride in his art and appearance. His songs invoke a different level of historical feelings within each of his devoted fans. Idol continues his Las Vegas residency at the House of Blues @ Mandalay Bay with 6 more shows this month alone and a total of 24 remaining (select dates in May, September & October).
Setlist: Shock To The System | Dancing With Myself | Flesh For Fantasy | Can’t Break Me Down | John Wayne | Prodigal Blues | Eyes Without A Face | Stevens Guitar Solo | Don’t Need A Gun | King Rocker | Blue Highway | Rebel Yell
Encore: White Wedding | Drum Solo