Before settling into a residency at House of Blues in Las Vegas later this summer Billy Idol embarked on a quick North American tour that brought him to First Avenue yesterday. The show sold out almost immediately and the line of folks trying to get a good spot early was quite long. Getting the crowd in the mood was Minneapolis’ DJ Jake Rudh’s whose play list was heavy on artists that influenced the British punk scene that spawned Generation X and later Billy Idol as solo artist featuring some rarely heard songs that perfectly fit the theme of the evening.
Opening was Minneapolis’ The Blind Shake, a trio made up of brothers Jim and Mike Blaha, with friend Dave Roper on drums. Describing themselves as a kind of backyard extraterrestrial minimal surf-punk party they started their set with an energetic wild sounding jam and did not slow down from there. There is surf in their music but you have to listen closely, there is a bit of rockabilly (at least I heard it), the rest is punk. I quite enjoyed their short set and by the sound of the cheers, so did the crowd.
Billy Idol’s last album is a couple of years old but let’s face it, folks knew about it but that’s not what the audience came to see. With his wild younger years, it’s surprising so see Idol at 60 looking and sounding great. His hair was not a spiky as usual but that was probably just the humidity. The set started with a prolonged loop if instrumentals from “Blue Highway” and then Billy Idol pretty much stormed the stage and took charge. What we got was vintage Idol, the fists, the pointed finger, the sneer and of course the voice. Longtime friend and guitarist Steve Stevens got his share of the limelight with a long solo and when Idol mentioned playing First Ave for the first time in 1982 Stevens pointed out that he was there as well.
Unexpected (and not on the set list) was a great cover of Prince’s Controversy played by Idol and Stevens. After the first couple of songs came an on stage wardrobe change to lose some layers of clothing as sweat was running down Idol’s face. Overall an outstanding show that took many in the audience back to the days of their youth.
Set List: Shock to the System / Dancing with Myself / Flesh for Fantasy / Can’t break Me / Scream / Prodigal Blues / Eyes without a Face / Steve Steven’s Solo / World’s forgotten Boy / King Rocker / Blue Highway / Controversy (Prince Cover) / Rebel Yell Encore: To be a Lover / White Wedding / Mony