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Music review: Billy Idol in Vicar St, Dublin


Billy Idol at Vicar St. (Pic: Colm Kelly)

Billy Idol at Vicar St. (Pic: Colm Kelly)

Billy Idol at Vicar St. (Pic: Colm Kelly)

There is nothing on earth quite like the Billy Idol sneer.

Idol cocks his head and slightly distorts his face. The 58-year-old icon roars at the audience and incites them to cheer by raising his hands aloft. Often this is all Idol needs to do to send the full house completely nuts.

When the former Generation X singer became an arena-headlining artist in his 1980s heyday, many in the punk community sneered right back at Idol and branded him a sell-out.

Tonight is a sell-out and box office business was so brisk Idol probably could have done at least two nights.

The former hell-raiser appears to be working hard rather than partying hard this weather. In the midst of this tour, he is also plugging a book entitled Dancing With Myself alongside his new Trevor Horn-produced studio album Kings & Queens of the Underground. Idol has been a regular fixture on BBC Breakfast radio shows over the last week with appearances on Shaun Keaveny and Chris Evans. It is almost unthinkable that Idol would be up and at 'em on the dawn promo trail during previous decades.

The highly unexpected pleasant surprise is that his show rocks from start to finish and drips with sweaty rock 'n' roll attitude. Idol is joined by Steve Stevens on guitar, a totemic '80s presence who also played guitar for Michael Jackson and penned the 'Top Gun Anthem' for the blockbuster film of the same name. The way in which Stevens and Idol throw shapes is pleasantly reminiscent of David Bowie and his late sidekick Mick Ronson. Stevens even has his own T-shirts on sale at the merchandise stall, which is the first time I've seen other band members muscle in on the souvenir trade.

Idol and his charges open an 18-song setlist with 'Postcards from the Past' and his 1990 hit 'Cradle of Love'. The hits come hard and fast, from the old Generation X staple 'Dancing With Myself' to the 1984 smash 'Rebel Yell', an evergreen anthem reputedly named after a brand of bourbon whiskey Idol spotted Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood drinking.

The encores consist of a truly epic version of 'White Wedding' that neatly combines acoustic and electric versions of his classic calling card hit.

Idol signs off with his '80s power pop version of 'Mony Mony' by Tommy Jones and the Shondells, an anthemic conclusion to a surprisingly entertaining and very memorable night. Billy Idol has weathered the tides of time remarkably well. Most of his music has too.

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