Sept 14, 2005 - F.M. Kirby Center - Wilkes-Barre, PA
Billy Idol, the Peroxide Prince of Punk, is one of my all time favorite performers. If you are a follower of this site, you know I have tried repeatedly to get a photo of myself with Billy Idol to no avail.
I took photos of Billy in Binghamton, and I got to shake his hand while he was on stage. It turned out in the end, that I did not get my photo.
A few weeks later, I tried to get a Meet & Greet with Billy at Turning Stone Casino, only to be told on the day of the show that it would not happen. I was really bummed out.
When I went to Las Vegas, it turned out Billy Idol was playing at the Hard Rock Casino. I requested a photo pass and again requested a Meet & Greet. That time the PR person I dealt with for the show tried to tell me that I didn't send the correct info. But in truth, every email I had sent her had the info, and I sent her at least five. So, in the end I didn't get to see Billy Idol in Las Vegas. It was a major bummer… but more about that later when I finish the story about Vegas.
When I got home from Las Vegas, I bumped into my friend Jenn. She is friends with Billy Idol's guitar player: Steve Stevens. Jenn informed me that Billy would be doing a show in Rochester, NY. Believing in the old adage that "the third time is a charm," I once again put in a request for that show. As luck would have it, the adage turned out to be true.
It happened that the PR person I was going through before was no longer handling Billy Idol's press and the new person, Pam, was great. She set me up with a Photo Pass, tickets, "After Show" passes, and said that she would see about an interview. She informed me that Billy rarely did interviews on the day of a show, and that if he didn't do it, that she would try to set it up so that I could speak with Steve Stevens. I was psyched! I contacted my good friend Josh Hevner and asked if he wanted to do this show with me and he said yes. He seemed as excited as I was.
Fast forward a few weeks… I bumped into Jenn again. She informed me that the Rochester show had been canceled and that the band had rescheduled a show for the same night in Wilkes-Barre, PA which is about a three hour drive South of Syracuse. I am quite familiar with that city due to my frequent trips to shows at Café Metropolis. I contacted Pam at the PR company ands asked if I could transfer my stuff over to the show in Wilkes-Barre and she said it would be no problem.
I contacted Josh and told him, but he was unable to go to Wilkes-Barre due to his work obligations.
He suggested I ask his friend Jonathon Davis. (NOT the KORN guy!) The year before, Jon was a big fan and had dressed up like Billy Idol for Halloween last year. So, I asked Jon and he said he could go.
I will admit that I was a little nervous about bringing Jon with me. He is a fun guy, but when he drinks, he is a loose cannon. Luckily for me, he recently stopped drinking and that was a bonus. It set my mind a bit at ease, but not completely. I remained nervous until the day of the show. Josh assured me that Jon Davis would behave himself. It turned out I wasted a lot of time on worry. Jon was the perfect travel companion. The drive to Wilkes-Barre was fun. We saw many strange things on the way. One of my favorites was a truck pulling a GIANT gear. I would like to see the machine that it belonged to because it had to be HUGE. We listened to the band Rat City Riot and some Billy Idol on the way. We were ready for this concert and it was showing. It was going to be great!
We arrive in Wilkes-Barre at 3:30 and found the F. M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. The doors were open so we headed inside to find out about our tickets. The people at the box office informed us that the tickets and passes from the band weren't there yet. So, we wandered around the venue and watched the stage crew working out the high-tech light show until we were told that we had to go back and wait in the lobby area. We bumped into some people going in for a scheduled Meet & Greet.

We tried to see if we could go in for it as well, but we were denied. We were told that it was only for people that had purchased a VIP Pass Package. So, unable to meet the Peroxide Prince, Jon and I chose to go grab some drinks and I needed cigarettes. We walked around the Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre, found a convenience store, got our stuff and decided to go to the big park in the center of the Public Square. There was a cool statue of Christopher Columbus and a beautiful fountain, as well as some cool sculptures. My favorite one was a long multi-piece stone sculpture of a snake that appeared to be swimming through water, which also functions as a series of benches. Also, there were some interesting bricks in the sidewalk that had silhouettes of Native Americans in them that were very interesting. We took photos of everything. (To see photos Click Here)
We went back into the lobby, but I realized that I had forgotten to bring buttons and "Fuck Bush" Bracelets for Billy Idol and Steve Stevens. I sent Jon Davis back to the van to grab some. On his way back to meet me, Jon saw Billy Idol get off of his canary yellow tour bus and head inside for the sound check.
After the sound check was finished, I was outside smoking and met a guy named Bart. He had attended the Meet & Greet, to which we had been denied… He allowed me to take photos of his autographed laminate. He told us that his passes had come from a VIP deal through the Billy Idol website for $250. It was the same thing that my friend Katie (a.k.a. Mara) had done for the Velvet Revolver concert that we went to in Scranton, PA.
We went back to waiting in the Theater lobby and were soon approached by a man who introduced himself to us as Tell. He worked with the tour manager. He told us it would be a few hours before our tickets would be available, so we had to wait until about 6:30. Tell also informed us that we would not be able to do an interview with Billy Idol, but Steve Stevens would be willing to talk with me, but it would have to be after the show.
He gave us his cell phone number, and then told us if we had any problems to give him a call and he would help us out. We thanked him and he went back to doing his regular job.

Jon and I went out to take photos of the F.M. Kirby Center's Marquee which was scrolling the upcoming events including the performance by Billy Idol.
About that time, a few kids came by with some freestyle bikes and were doing some tricks. Jon Davis and I talked to them for a few moments and Jon borrowed one of their bikes and busted a number of tricks himself. It turns out Jon used tide in competitions.
I also met a lovely young lady that worked for the F.M. Kirby Center. I believe her name was Anne. She was very nice and not to mention… very cute. We talked about the show and the city of Wilkes-Barre's new logo. Also around that time, I met Tom. He was a photographer for the local entertainment paper called Diamond City. He was a very friendly guy. A few smokes and cool conversations later, the time came to get our passes, etc. The young lady came out and handed Jon and I our "After Show" passes and gave the other Tom his Photo Pass, but none of us were given tickets. To add drama, my Photo Pass wasn't there either...
We explained to the young lady that we were supposed to have tickets and a Photo Pass. She said she would be back. About five minutes later, she returned holding three tickets and asked, "How does tenth row sound?" We all wholeheartedly agreed that tenth row sounded GREAT! She gave us our tickets, but said there was still had no Photo Pass for me.
We decided to call Tell and see what could be done. Neither Jon nor I had a cell phone and there was absolutely no pay phone anywhere in the Public Square area. We asked several people if we could use their cell phones, but we were denied every time. So, I decided to walk around to the back of the venue near the load-in door to find a member of the road crew and have them radio Tell on their walkie-talkies. I explained who I was and what the problem was to one of the guys. He radioed Tell and explained what was up. Within a matter of moments, Tell was at the back door with a Photo Pass and two more "After Show" passes. I told him we already had the "After Show" passes and all I needed was the Photo Pass so I could get my pictures. We thanked him and headed up front.

We were having a smoke under the Marquee before we went in and again bumped into both Anne and Tom. They asked if we had finally gotten everything together. We informed them that all had been taken care of, enjoyed our cigarette with them and then headed inside to see the show.
The interior of the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts is beautiful. It is very opulent and spacious. It is a wonderful venue in which to see a live show and, in addition, it boasts the largest movie screen in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. The movie screen was up and out of the way to allow for the large stage. The back wall was all brick and looked really cool. Jon, the other Tom, and I found our seats and got comfortable.
As we sat and waited for the show to begin, I was adjusting my camera. A moment later, one of the ushers came over and told me I could not have my camera. I told him I had a Photo Pass. He must not have heard me and asked, "What?" I whipped up my pass and stated very loudly: "Photo Pass!" He seemed a little shocked. I then told him I was shooting photos as a member of the Press. He apologized and went back to his duties.
Within five minutes the lights dimmed and the show was on! The band took the stage.
Several seconds later Billy Idol joined them and the crowd let out a mighty Rebel Yell... (Sorry… I couldn't help myself… lol)
Being directly against the stage with the crowd and no buffer zone was a bit of a problem for shooting photos, but I was able to get some great shots as Billy and Steve came right up to the edge.
The opening song was "Super Overdrive." As the band went through songs such as "Dancin' with Myself," and "Flesh for Fantasy" the crowd seemed to forget all about their seats and came up to the front in front of the stage. It seemed the ushers disappeared. The crowd was not unruly. They were very polite and had no major problems. The only person being a problem was an exceedingly stuck-up "video bimbo" against the front of the stage. The person she had a problem with: Me!
Here's the story: She was getting mad that people were bumping into her. She screamed at me for bumping into her with my arm. It was hot near the front as anyone who has ever been to a concert will tell you and when the crowd moves, you get jostled around. So, here I am fighting the crowd trying to stay steady enough to get my photos. I was sweating a little bit and when the crowd moved, I bumped her. She turned and screamed at me, "Ewww! You got your fucking sweat all over me!"
I apologized; telling her it was an accident. She rolled her eyes and made a comment to her friend about how the fat bastard next to her just covered her in his nasty sweat. Moments later, Billy Idol kneels down in front of the two and they are running their hands all over his body which is by this time covered in… (Wait for it…) SWEAT!
Although I tried to prevent myself from bumping her, it happened again. She acted like an even bigger bitch. She starts screaming at me: "Don't fucking touch me!" That was enough to set me off. I told her that if she couldn't handle being in the front, to take her slutty ass to the back where she can pose like a whore without being bumped. She flipped me off and I told her to go fuck herself. She was lucky I didn't spit on her.
Finally, "Flesh for Fantasy" ended and being the third song, the security guys told me I couldn't take any more photos.
At that point I returned to my seat and my bag which Jon had been watching.

He wanted to go to the front for a few songs and dance. A few songs later he was back and I went to the front again. During one song, I handed Billy one of the infamous "Fuck Bush" bracelets. He read it, laughed and then alluded to the fact that it was a sexual device as he held it up to his groin in front of the crowd.
The set progressed with songs like "White Wedding," and "Plastic Jesus." Soon it was time for Steve Stevens' guitar solo. The solo lasted nearly ten minutes and gave Steve a chance to show why he is such a respected guitar player. It also gave the crowd a break from singing along with their favorites.
Billy and the band moved into some new material from the album Devil's Playground. The songs were met with the same enthusiasm as the fan favorites.

Near the end of the show, Billy pulled out and played his acoustic guitar on songs such as "Hot in the City." Some people around me did not know that Billy played guitar. I informed them that before he was the frontman for Gen X, he played in a band called Chelsea with future Clash guitarist Mick Jones and future Damned guitarist Brian James.
Billy also pulled out some songs from his days with Generation X like "Kiss Me Deadly." The show ended on a high note as the band went into a lengthy version of the Tommy James song "Mony Mony." It was spectacular. As the band ended the set, Billy Idol thanked us all for coming and wished us all a goodnight. Then, with a final wave, Billy and the band left the stage and the house lights came up.
As the rest of the crowd cleared out, those of us with "After Show" Passes were sent to the front and to the right side of the stage. The stage crew was tearing down the set and I asked the drum tech if I could have a drumstick. He searched around behind the drum kit and found one for me. Then Jon Davis walked up and asked if there were any more sticks. The drum tech told him' "This isn't Styx, it's Billy Idol." Without blinking Jon replied, "No shit! I didn't hear Come Sail Away." The drum tech laughed and said, "There's one in every crowd." It was pretty funny and we all laughed.
A few minutes later, Tell appeared and told me that my interview would be in about five minutes.

So, until then Jon and I waited with the small group that had passes. The security guys came and told us to go out the back door and out we went. As we were all standing outside, Tell returned and took us back inside and downstairs to a dressing room for our audience with Steve Stevens. He informed us that the guys had to leave very soon to make it to Detroit on time. We would only have five to ten minutes for our interview. I promised to keep it quick and got down to business.
We discussed the new album, how the tour was going, what brought him and Billy Idol back together, and what he thought of the decision of the Michael Jackson trial. Steve was very friendly and easy to talk to.
After the interview we posed for a few photos and thanked Steve for his time. There was a green guitar pick sitting on the counter and I asked for it. Steve said to go ahead and take it. I gave it to Jon.
Jon Davis and I made a beeline back to the outside door to get back to the rest of the "After Show" group to try and get a quick photo with Billy. We got outside and they were all standing there waiting. I asked if we had missed anything. They told us that Billy had not come out, so we hadn't missed anything.
We lit up smokes and continued to wait. We chatted with the people around us as we waited. Three of the people that were waiting were these kids that were sitting next to us in the tenth row. Their names were Paul Bachman, Randi Selinsky, and Tory Benner. They were friendly and cool. I gave them some of my photos of Billy Idol from the Binghamton show.
Soon, Steve came out the back door, signed about five autographs for people and got on the tour bus.
Moments later, the bus revved its engine and pulled out with Billy and Steve inside.
It was painfully obvious, once again, that we would not be getting a photo with Billy Idol. We kept asking ourselves and those around us what the point of giving us "After Show" passes if there was not going to be a Meet & Greet following the show. Nobody had any answer. I guess it will remain one of those unsolved Rock & Roll mysteries. I finished my smoke and we said goodnight to our newfound friends and headed for Jon's van.
On the way home we talked about the show and how cool it was.
As we drove home, I went through the photos on my digital camera and deleted the worst of my pictures and check out what I had. Some of them were really good! I was very happy. A few that I thought would not come out, in fact, came out betterthan some of the ones I did think would be good.
Jon kept his foot to the floor and we made the journey back to Syracuse in less than two hours! If that van had wings we would have lifted off. We stopped by the Blue Tusk and it was dead. We told LunchBoxxx and the rest of the crew about the adventure and showed off a few of the photos. Jon Davis gave his Steve Stevens guitar pick to LunchBoxxx. After that we talked to Vinny for a few minutes, and then headed home. It had been a great day.

Billy Idol

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w/ Steve Stevens

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