Photos and Words by G.
Billy Idol and his guitarist Steve Stevens are rock gods! On May 29, 2015, they played an outdoor concert on Pier 97 in New York and it rocked so hard! I’ve seen Billy Idol perform a few times over the years (including earlier in 2015 at the Beacon Theatre – but there is no review because I was on a blog hiatus) and Billy Idol never disappoints.
If you know little of Billy Idol’s history, he’s been performing for nearly 40 years, which in and of itself is an amazing accomplishment. There was a period of time where he was a major drug addict and he was nearly killed in a horrible motorcycle accident where he was not expected to ever walk again, let alone perform. I mention these things because Billy Idol showed no signs of being anything other than a rock god for the duration of his performance.
Before I discuss how great Billy Idol looked and sounded, let me paint a picture of the scene. Pier 97 is located at 55th Street and the West Side Highway, and what that means to non-New Yorkers, is that you have a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline in the background as you watch the concert.
New York suffered a punishing winter, and the weather has just started to get nice, so being able to be outdoors and not freezing your ass off is such a treat and during the Billy Idol concert, the weather was absolutely perfect. The show kicked off with “Postcards from the Past,” a track from Billy Idol’s latest album “Kings and Queens of the Underground,” his first new album in almost 10 years. “Cradle of Love” was next and from then on, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. His signature moves of jumping around, “the snarl,” and fist pumping were present throughout the show and it drove the audience wild!
Because Billy Idol’s songs were played to death on the radio in the 80s, you sort of forget how great they sound when you have a concert full of people singing along to his songs and how many times, the songs lend themselves perfectly to crowd participation. For example, hearing the whole of Pier 97 shout out “FLESH! FLESH FOR FANTASY!” at every chorus during that song along with Billy gives me chills thinking about it. Or during “Rebel Yell,” when the crowd shouts out “More! More! More! Woooooooowwwwww!” or during “White Wedding” when the audience sings “It’s a nice day to…. STAAAAAART AGAAAAINNNNN!” is also chill inducing. During “Dancing With Myself,” at every chorus, Billy Idol said “If I had a chance, I’d ask NEW YORK to dance,” and if people hadn’t completely lost their minds by that point in the show, that sure did it. He also changed the lyrics of his cover of The Doors’ “LA Woman” to “New York Woman.”
Billy Idol gave many shout outs to New York, where he said that a lot of his hit songs were written here. He thanked the audience for “making my life so fucking great” and he also thanked his long time guitarist Steve Stevens for the same thing. Steve Stevens is a killer on guitar and he was given several guitar solos whereby he slayed the crowd!
Steve Stevens plays the guitar so effortlessly, that you could not help but watch him in awe as he shredded his guitar. During a lengthy solo, he was playing fast and slow which lead to the inevitable opening notes of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” and after a few seconds, he looked at the audience and shook his head no as if it was too cheesy to play that song and then he went back to his solo and scorched the guitar. He also slayed during his solos on songs like “Flesh For Fantasy” and “Rebel Yell” and during “White Wedding,” the track started off acoustically before transforming into the rockin’ version we all know and love by the second chorus.
The show closed with Billy Idol’s famous cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Mony Mony” and as always, it featured the in between lyrics crowd chants of “Hey Motherfucker, get laid, get fucked!” The show was about all you could ask for when it comes to the setlist as he dug deep in his back catalog all the way back to the Generation X days (with “Ready Steady Go!”), and he played the majority of his hits, with the exception of “Catch my Fall,” “To Be A Lover,” and “Don’t Need A Gun.” Perhaps he will resurrect those great songs for his next tour? If you have ever loved a Billy Idol song, and how could you not?, you should make sure you see him live the next time he comes to your city, because he and Steve Stevens are true rock gods!!!
I’d like to give a shout-out to Bar 9 for hooking me up with tickets. Thanks so much, I had a blast!
The setlist was:
Postcards from the Past / Cradle of Love / Can’t Break Me Down / Dancing With Myself / Flesh For Fantasy / Save Me Now / Ready Steady Go / Sweet Sixteen / Eyes Without a Face / LA Woman (Doors cover) / Steve Stevens Guitar Solo / Whiskey and Pills / Blue Highway / Rebel Yell
Encore: White Wedding / Drum Solo / Mony Mony (Tommy James and the Shondells Cover)