March 13, 2017
House of Blues
Review by Shawn Perry & Ron Lyon
Photos by Ron Lyon
Rockin’ the cradle of love, Billy Idol made a stop at the brand-new House of Blues in Anaheim for a spectacular, somewhat short gig. Nevertheless, the spiky-haired 61-year-old Idol packed a ton of energy into the 13 songs he and his band (featuring longtime guitarist Steve Stevens, second guitarist Billy Morrison, keyboardist Paul Trudeau, bassist Stephen McGrath and drummer Erik Eldenius) played over the course of 75 minutes.
The floor was full and ready to take off. Shortly after eight, blue and red lights started to dance to a trance soundtrack (likely some of Stevens’ work). Silhouettes scattered across the stage, the strands of sounds faded and all at once, the band was set in motion. Idol came out last, a roar erupted and “Shock To The System,” one of the singer’s post peak hits from 1993, lit the torch for a night of no nonsense rock and roll.
Idol was clad in black, hardened and aged a little but basically looking very much the way he did in the 80s. His vocals were tentative at first, and at some turns he emitted a primal scream that felt a tad flat. Still, the attitude and swagger suspended any disbelief in his abilities. And he had Stevens at his side for the fireworks and fancy fretwork the more musically sophisticated fans came to soak up.
The guitarist held nothing back. He played the solo for “Dancing With Myself” behind his neck. Later, he played an acoustic, and teased the audiences with Yes, Led Zeppelin and Flamenco licks. When he switched back to his electric, he drew feedback, shook the building and played the solo for “Blue Highway” with his teeth.
Along with requisite hits — “Flesh For Fantasy,” “Eyes With Out A Face” and the one-two punch finale of “Rebel Yell” and “White Wedding” (which began with just Idol and Stevens on acoustic) — Idol broke out newer tracks like 2014’s “Can’t Break Me Down” and 2008’s “John Wayne,” which featured one of Idol’s best vocals. The crowd responded politely, with reservation. They obviously came for the hits.
When he came out for the encore, Idol proclaimed: "Thanks for making my life so fucking great!" For all the fanfare, the signature moves, the pumped fist and shirt removals that Idol brought to the night, it was Eldenius and his drum solo that ended the show. The band was reportedly supposed to return after the drum solo and finish up with “Mony Mony.” For unexplained reasons, the drummer finished his solo and exited the stage.
Fans waited patiently for another five minutes before the house lights came up. Everyone figured out the show was over and there wouldn't be any more, more, more. It was a great night of classic 80s rock in a cool new venue despite the abrupt ending. It’s likely a different story at his multi-show March and May runs at the House of Blues in Las Vegas.