July 5, 2001
The Tabernacle-Atlanta, GA


cs-BillyIdol1-Atlanta7501.JPG (26816 bytes)  cs-BillyIdol2-Atlanta7501.JPG (23295 bytes)  cs-BillyIdol3-Atlanta7501.JPG (29451 bytes)  cs-BillyIdol4-Atlanta7501.JPG (47427 bytes)

After more than a decade of irrelevance, Billy Idol returned to Atlanta recently with renewed vigor and fire. Perhaps the return of Steve Stevens, super-guitarist and co-writer of Idol’s best material, has something to do with it. Whatever the reason, the former punk led his band through an inspired set on this night. Beginning with the cheesy “Rock The Cradle,” he changed a few lyrics admitting inasmuch that the song was not his best. This also seemed to be his way of getting that one out of the way and on to the real show. “Dancing With Myself” and “Flesh For Fantasy” followed quickly. From a distance of 10 or more feet, he looked exactly as he should have with his spiked bleached blonde hair, leather and attitude. Up close, a bit of age showed, but as he alternated between throwing fists, snarling and faux masturbation, the 40-something singer had the venue packed and singing along all night. He appeared genuinely surprised at the turnout and could occasionally be caught laughing triumphantly at the volume of the roar coming back at him. His band, with the exception of the guitarist, looked like roadies and stayed back in the shadows laying the foundation for the two frontmen. Steve Stevens supplied more rock star moves than should be allowed, wind-milling and leaping with his jet black hair and high-heeled boots. His playing was dead on and thrilling to watch and hear. In the middle of the show, there was an extended period of semi-acoustic re-workings of some of Idol’s more forgettable hits that showed off the guitarist’s ability (and agility) nicely. A rockabilly take on “To Be A Lover” was dedicated to Chet Atkins. Even more bizarre was a traditional country version of “Sweet Sixteen” that actually worked. I hated these songs as singles, but stripped down to bare necessities, they were surprisingly good tunes. “White Wedding” was also done acoustically. Steve played all of the parts by finger picking his guitar as Billy stuck close to him throughout the song that virtually defined its time. This show wasn’t all just nostalgia, though. Two new songs were played that stood up to the best of the more “classic” material. First was a rocker called “Walk The Monster” that kept the crowd buzzing better than some of the familiar numbers. Even more impressive was the dynamic and powerful “The Fire Song (Burning Bright).” This moody piece was probably the most well written song of the evening. Perhaps, it’s too good for modern radio, but it demonstrated that the Idol/Stevens creative partnership is stronger than ever. When Stevens finally strapped back on his electric guitar, “Blue Highway” blasted to the back walls and was more poignant and autobiographical than it seemed in its time. The surprise of the evening was an especially potent shout-along version of Generation X’s “Ready Steady Go.” This visit to his pre-solo catalog underscored the longevity of his career and how much fresher Idol’s material is than nearly any other artist’s output from that era. “Rebel Yell” ended the main set in a raw fashion that had virtually every arm in the building punching upward during the “more, more, more” parts. Two covers were the encores. “Mony Mony” had another massive shout along (albeit a bit more profane than the other ones and not on the original recording), and “L.A. Woman” was dedicated to the thirtieth anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death. While Idol did pander a bit to the crowd on this one (“GA Woman”), it somehow seemed fitting as closer. Decades on from his punk roots and more at ease in 2001 than the pissed off brat of his early years, Billy Idol delivered a crash-bang-wollop of a show that felt like it was equal parts Eddie Cochran, Johnny Rotten, Pete Townshend and Elvis Presley’s Vegas years. This is hands down the most welcome return of an ‘80’s act that I have witnessed. (Chris McKay/

 cs-BillyIdol5-Atlanta7501.JPG (30144 bytes)  cs-BillyIdol6-Atlanta7501.JPG (23891 bytes)  cs-BillyIdol7-Atlanta7501.JPG (46181 bytes)  cs-BillyIdol8-Atlanta7501.JPG (31174 bytes)


BILLY IDOL set list (7-5-01):

1. Cradle Of Love
2. Dancing With Myself
3. Flesh For Fantasy
4. (Don't You) Forget About Me
5. Walk The Monster
6. The Fire Song (Burning Bright)
7. White Wedding
8. Sweet Sixteen
9. To Be A Lover
10. Eyes Without A Face
11. Don't Need A Gun
12. Blue Highway
13. Ready Steady Go
14. Rebel Yell

15. Mony Mony
16. L.A. Woman