April 9, 2005 - Magic City Music Hall - Johnson City, NY

Return of the Peroxide Prince

If Johnny Rotten is the living King of Punk, then Billy Idol must be one of its Crown Princes.
But the Peroxide Prince hasn't had a hit in more than a decade and his most high-profile appearance in recent years was his cameo appearance as himself in the Adam Sandler comedy: "The Wedding Singer."
That’s about to change…
Not content to rest on his laurels and work the nostalgia circuit, Billy Idol is on the road supporting his newest release: Devil's Playground (Sanctuary records.).
Idol’s first new studio album in more than a decade could be the last chance for this old-school Punk to stand with contemporary acts, reclaim some of his early-1980s spotlight, or even the notoriety of his Generation X days.
There’s something romantic about a hero from the past attempting a comeback. To survive, Idol will need to stick to the essentials that launched him to '80s fame: solid-rocking songs, his trademark sneer, attitude, sex appeal, charismatic stage presence, and a busy touring schedule.

Billy Idol knows about survival. He has been around since the beginning of the Punk Revolution. In his teens, Idol was part of a group of punk rockers who befriended and followed The Sex Pistols, known as "The Bromley Contingent." (Another member of this colorful group of characters was Siouxsie Sioux, leader of Siouxsie & the Banshees.)
In 1976 he formed the Punk band Generation X. The band signed a recording contract with Chrysalis and released such albums as 1978's self-titled debut, 1979's Valley of the Dolls, and 1981's Kiss Me Deadly -- before splitting up. When the band broke up, Idol went solo.
Billy achieved his mainstream popularity in the 80’s during MTV’s infancy. Idol ruled the music video channel’s airwaves for nearly a decade with hit after hit.
And if that wasn't enough to show that Billy knows survival, he openly admits, that over the years, he has spent literally millions of dollars on drugs, (he still smokes pot). In a recent interview, Idol states that he never did too many drugs, but that he actually did "just the right amount." (Translation: No Overdose = No problem) And in 1990, he nearly lost his leg and his life in a motorcycle accident, which forced him to walk with a cane for a while.
Despite the years of Rock & Roll excess, the spike-haired Idol is still a physical specimen to behold. He is all muscle and bone, comparable to Iggy Pop’s physique. At forty-nine years old, Billy Idol may be in the best physical shape of his life and seems ready to take back his rightful place in the Pantheon of Punk...
Idol’s touring band is rounded out by Stephen McGrath on bass, Brian Tichy on drums, Derek Sherinian on keyboards, and the legendary guitarist Steve Stevens.
Stevens is an Idol compatriot from Billy’s glory years. Stevens also co-wrote and co-produced several songs on the Devil’s Playground cd.
I like the new song "Scream." It sounds a lot like his old stuff. But it's going to! He's Billy Idol. That's what he sounds like. Which is to say: If you Love the old stuff, you will Love the new stuff.
Some detractors might say Billy's brand of Pop Punk sounds "dated." I am here to tell you that Billy Idol still ROCKS! And the American public seems to agree with me. The song is currently #26 and climbing on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart. A video was recently shot for the song with Jeff Stein, who directed the clip for Idol's 1983 classic "Rebel Yell." The video features images by guerilla artist Shepard Fairey.

I was supposed to do an interview with Billy Idol, and I was all psyched up for it because Billy Idol was one of the people that I originally wanted to put in my HeroQuest list, but he got bumped out so that I could cover all of my musical tastes. But two days before the show, I got an email saying that, due to time constraints, I would be unable to get it. I was really bummed out, but at least I still got to shoot photos.
When Jack Bennet and I arrived at the venue, the parking lot was already full and there was a long line of people to get in. I walked around with my buttons and sold many. At six o'clock, the doors opened and the crowd flooded the club.
The crowd at Magic City Music Hall in Johnson City, NY got a full-on taste of Billy Idol. The show was SOLD OUT and the room was packed to the rafters. The crowd was given a PHENOMINAL performance. From the opening notes to the closing, nearly every song was a hit. Billy and the band ripped through favorites like "Eyes Without A Face," "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding." Billy only played a few songs from Devil's Playground, but they were well recieved by the crowd. Arlo, the light guy, did a wonderful job as well. I promised him I would mention it. (Thank You Arlo!)
Billy never stopped moving as they went from one song to another. They closed with an extended version of Idol's cover of Tommy James & the Shondells' "Mony Mony," The crowd loved every minute of it. As I was leaving the photo pit Billy reached out, shook my hand, and mouthed the words, "Thank you." After the show, I got a set list and a guitar pick from Steve Stevens.
This was, without a doubt, one of the BEST shows I have seen in a while. Billy seemed charged, focused, and full of vigor. People in the Central New York area can catch Billy Idol again when he comes to the Turning Stone Casino on May 16th. He will also be appearing on Good Morning America on April 15th.
Billy Idol appears to be on a mission to reclaim his Crown, and from what the crowd saw, he will accomplish it. Long Live the Prince!

Sanctuary Records


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