Billy Idol Delivers a Sneering Set at House of Blues Anaheim
John Gilhooley

Billy Idol Delivers a Sneering Set at House of Blues Anaheim

Billy Idol
House of Blues Anaheim

His name says it all. Billy Idol. He was one of the performers worshiped in the ‘80s with his bleached blonde hair, excessive leather, and that angry little snarl of his. He’s done it all from rocking out in front of hundreds of thousands of adoring fans, to gracing the silver screen, dominating MTV, and being a bad-boy poster child all the girls lost their minds over. Idol also single-handedly bridged the gap between raw punk and pristine pop all in one act, and it was spectacular. The girls all wanted him, and the boys wanted to be him.

Although Idol might not have yielded the same heavy sounds as acts like Guns N’ Roses or LA Guns, Idol always stood as a respected player among the rougher acts of the time. Come on, the guy was nominated for three Grammys for cryin’ out loud. So how could I pass up a Billy Idol show as a child of the late ‘80s? I couldn’t. The trip down memory lane is always cathartic for my metal soul. However, I decided to skip out on a celebratory shot of Rebel Yell that is expected for Idol fans and grabbed myself a vodka soda instead. Sorry Billy, I’m in the 30+ club now.

The show kicked off promptly at 8 p.m. with bright, show-stopping lights, and a seemingly coordinated screech from the crowd. Then Idol emerged, like a dream straight out of 1987. There was an aura about him that every rock star wishes to achieve—it’s such a flawless air of confidence. His hair was spiked and bleached to perfection, his trademark necklaces are draped around his chest, and his leather jacket was everything you remember from your ‘80s upbringing. You’d swear he’s still in his prime.

Billy Idol Delivers a Sneering Set at House of Blues Anaheim
John Gilooley

He started things off off with "Shock to the System" then streamlined to into the epic crowd-pleaser "Dancing with Myself." Smartphone cameras were held high, photos were flashing, and there wasn't a single fan not screaming, “If I had the chance I’d ask the world to dance!” from the very top of their lungs come chorus time.

Idol then played a slew of classics like "Flesh for Fantasy," "Scream," "John Wayne," and "Eyes Without a Face" without coming up for air for a reprieve. Then show slowed down a bit and the stage quieted down. Lead guitarist Steve Stevens took center stage and played a flamenco-styled solo. It may seem like an odd choice, but it actually proved to be the perfect lead-in for him to pay homage to classic rock giants, Led Zeppelin, at the end of his solo. Can I mention that he also played a portion of said solo with the guitar behind his head and also with his teeth? Seriously, wow.

Idol quickly jumped back on stage to talk to the audience, but this is the only time he does so. The rest of his set flew by without addressing the audience or any entertaining breaks, which proves to be somewhat disappointing. "Don’t Need a Gun" and "Blue Highway" are next up, but the show then takes a turn towards Idol’s big named track, "Rebel Yell."

Billy Idol Delivers a Sneering Set at House of Blues Anaheim
John Gilhooley

The show’s encore was a solo, acoustic version of "White Wedding," which then switched gears into the original, electric version with the band members included. A crowd-pumping drum solo wraps the show then it ends like a runaway train careening off a cliff. The house lights and music comes up prompting the crowd the night is over, and confusion fills the room. "Mony Mony" wasn’t played, Idol didn’t wrap the show or introduce his band—it was just done. After a night of dancing and singing at the top of my lungs, it struck me as a bit of a letdown.

Sure Idol might not be in his prime, but all and all he sounded exactly like he did in his heyday. But after three decades of power housing the stage, give us something strong to end on Billy! Regardless, it was still a show worth catching and filled with a ton of musical nostalgia.


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