Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Billy Idol at the Beacon Theatre

William Michael Albert Broad was born in 1955 to a middle-class family in Stanmore, England. Throughout high school, he worked for his dad, delivering tools, and taught himself to play guitar and sang in local bands. In 1975, he attended Sussex University to pursue an English degree but left after one year. Immersing himself in the burgeoning London punk rock scene, he spiked his bleached blond hair and traveled around to Sex Pistols concerts. Eventually he picked up the guitar and joined a punk band himself, Chelsea, in 1976. Before the year ended, he left the band and, renaming himself Billy Idol, co-founded another punk rock band, Generation X. Generation X released three albums before disbanding in 1980. Idol then moved to New York City in 1981 and became a solo artist, with ace New York guitarist Steve Stevens at his side; Idol later relocated to Los Angeles and Connecticut. Idol's autobiography, Dancing with Myself, was published on October 7, 2014, and released his seventh and most recent studio album, Kings & Queens of the Underground, 10 days later.

At the Beacon Theater tonight, the 59-year-old singer was much like the 26-year-old punk who launched his solo career. The larger than life look, with blond spiky hair, rebel outfits and rocking sneer, almost disguised his increasingly leathery facial features. He opened with " Postcards from the Past," a speedy, driving rocker from his most recent album. In the prior week, Idol had cancelled several dates due to a cold and sore throat; tonight  Idol's Jim Morrison-styled vocals started with dynamic power. As the show progressed, Idol proved to be a riveting performer, and Stevens shone like a diamond on his guitar solos, but by the fourth song, "Dancing with Myself," Idol's voice started to sound as if his cold was smothering his voice. He made up for this loss with increasingly more guttural and more effective growls, emitted from deep within at maximum force. Idol's best songs were his better known songs from the 1980s. Even a cover of the Doors' "L.A. Woman" but engaging but not gripping. Nevertheless, he provided a rousing ending with "Rebel Yell", "White Wedding" and "Mony Mony." Idol played acoustic guitar on "Sweet Sixteen", shared a few anecdotes, had more between-song costume changes than Diana Ross and in the end wound up showing off his ripped chest. For one hour and 45 minutes, Idol captivated the audience with his magnetic swagger and attitude. Even when he is not at his best, Billy Idol is still the consummate rock star.

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