“Two words to introduce this next song! Two words! Two words to introduce this next song! Two words to introduce this next song!” Billy Idol getting the sold out crowd of nearly 3,000 screaming, fist pumping fans shouting “Rebel Yell” at the opening night of Grand Sierra Resort’s new Grand Theatre. I can’t imagine a better way to launch a high end new concert venue than having none other than Billy Idol kicking off a new tour of his own on the vast stage built on the $10 million dollar renovation of the live music space. Billy Idol has been building on his own career and accomplishments of late, with 2014’s awesome new album Kings & Queens of the Underground (the first in nine years) and bestselling Dancing With Myself autobiography. In the midst of a resurgent mainstream interest in all things Billy Idol, he seems to be as popular as ever. Alongside his incredible band, they’ve put together probably their best live show ever with this tour. It also clocked in as the longest show I’ve seen, at around two hours. I’ve always noted this band as one of my all-time favorite live shows, and I’d have to say that this was the best I’d ever seen them. I’ve always complimented Idol on his boundless and limitless energy and he seems to have reached a new high with this show and tour. He is at once an icon and an enigma, as he continues to evolve his style while retraining his trademark lip curl and tongue in cheek uncensored gestures, looks, and poses. And one can’t neglect to mention Mr. Steve Stevens on lead guitar, who could put the audience in a trance even if he stood alone on the stage – one of the best guitarists performing today, if not the very best. If you haven’t been to a Billy Idol concert lately, you haven’t seen him and his band at all, as they are better than they’ve ever been, and that is saying a lot.
2014 and 2015 are shaping up to be epic for fans of Billy Idol, starting with the Dancing With Myself autobiography, hitting stores and online retailers tomorrow. Today is the last day to pre-order for an entry into the Dancing With Myself Sweepstakes, and today is the first day of a limited number of book signings in the United States and the United Kingdom throughout October. In just a few weeks, on October 21st, the first new Billy Idol studio album in some time, Kings & Queens Of The Underground, will drop. The new single, “Can’t Break Me Down”, is already available. While UK and European concert dates were announced for November some time ago, today North American dates were announced for January and February 2015, including special meet and greet tickets. [Read more…]
“‘The second hand is unwinding…’ And I’m thinking… good lyric. So I used it. I always think it’s good to put a piece of what is really happening in the songs… there’s always a piece of what somebody says, in the songs, and that was one of the pieces.” A small part of one of many stories told by Cyndi Lauper about the making of the songs comprising her debut album, She’s So Unusual. With her “She’s So Unusual: 30th Anniversary Tour” underway, currently touring California, the Grammy and Tony Award winning artist entertained and delighted fans in the audience of Mountain Winery in Saratoga last night with her compelling mix of great music and insights into her life and experiences. Having had the opportunity and pleasure to catch her show two nights in a row, there were definitely some differences between the show I reviewed at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento and the one at Mountain Winery. For starters, the former was indoors in a theater while the latter was outdoors in an amphitheater, both designated historic landmarks in The Golden State. It was fun for me, personally, to compare and contrast. In any event, one thing is certain – no two shows are the same. While the general framework of the stories behind the music was the same, her recounting of them and stream of consciousness approach provided different insights, and the music felt different show to show as well, with a bit of a different energy (with Sacramento being perhaps more relaxed and Saratoga being more rocking). I’m very glad I was able to turn out for both, but having written quite a bit in the original review for Sacramento, this is more of a Part 2 addendum. Both shows are among my favorites attended this year and it is definitely a must see event for pop and rock music fans, especially those (who, like me) view the 80s (and first half of the 80s in particular) as an amazing time for music, with the birth of many great artists and songs, with Cyndi Lauper being central to all of it.
The greatest artists are always brilliant storytellers, in one way or another, and there is no doubting that Cyndi Lauper is a great communicator. I’ve been to many of her shows over the years, and Cyndi Lauper is all about connecting with people; connecting with her fans. She kicked off her show at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento last night by jumping off the stage and making her way up to the middle of the crowd, doing much of her singing surrounded by those who adore her and love not just her music, but what she’s done with her life, how she lives it, and what she gives back to the global community. Throughout her set, her stories in-between were unfiltered (apart from a few word choices out of respect for a nine year old up front), meandering, and fascinating… and going by the set list taped on the floor, passed into some of the time planned for singing. But when she sings, it’s truly a marvel, with her gift of voice and performance, and as she paced up and down the crowd up front (which instantly went from an all seated show to a standing GA free for all), she made personal connections with each of us – a look, a touch with her hand – because she is one of those earnest people… that rare breed who “made it” but it is not about themselves, but giving back… through songs, stories, laughter, experiences… and of course her brilliant music. Touring for the 30th anniversary of her debut album, She’s So Unusual, she is playing all those classic songs from that seminal 80s work, along with a bonus or two. I obviously go to a lot of concerts, but Cyndi Lauper was a true icon for me growing up in the 80s, and this was definitely the best experience I’ve had at one of her shows. Definitely a must see tour this year, and I’ll personally be doing it all again tonight at Mountain Winery in Saratoga.
“Thank you, Eugene, Oregon, for making my life so fucking great!” That’s Billy Idol for you. Billy Idol connects with people, and appreciates his fans. He connects with people via his music, of course, but in a live performance, he does more than that… and just as his language is uncensored, so are his connections with people. As soon as he comes out onto the stage, his eyes dart about the audience, and you see him make these connections. He seems to have an innate ability to connect with fans, and give them something back that suits them – a grin, a smile, a point with his finger and nod, a wry look, wide open eyes, the famous lip curl… [Read more…]
The world needs Billy Idol. The world needs cool, and it needs a bit of a rebel yell. But it also needs dreamers. And, sometimes, a crazy, impossible, outlandish dream can lead to great things. And all of this was proven on an epic night in Seattle, as a young man with hope, ambition, persistence, and ingenuity leveraged the Internet in a way that lead to rock music legend and icon Billy Idol playing his 26th birthday party at the Showbox SoDo in Seattle last night. I’ve seen Billy Idol many, many times over the years, but I can say without a doubt that last night’s special show featured the best audience I’ve ever been a part of at one of his concerts. And in these challenging times we live in, it felt like everyone left their struggles and frustrations and all other negativity at the door, and embraced the awesome music and amazing live performance of Billy Idol and his band, as the put on a scorching show. As just the second (by my count) U.S. date this year (with a third in Eugene tomorrow night), I believe it serves as evidence of the significant demand for fans to see Billy Idol play live. He is one of my all-time favorite artist, has such a fantastic catalog of songs, and is one of the best live acts performing today accompanied by a peerless band and the incomparable Steve Stevens on lead guitar. Cheers to Michael Henrichsen for having a dream and putting such effort into something that brings joy not just to himself, but everyone who loves Billy Idol who came to take part in it. Michael certainly knows how to party, and he brought it to Seattle last night, in the form of the legendary Billy Idol.
Today is a sad day for the music world, as the news spreads that Adam Yauch, MCA of the Beastie Boys, died today at the young age of 47 after a battle with cancer over several years. There are many fine obituaries published all over the web, just hours after the news broke, so I thought I would just share a few more personal thoughts about the man, his band, and their music. [Read more…]