The frosted-tipped hitmaker is currently on his 2023 tour
Billy Idol brought real classic rock to a packed crowd at DC’s Anthem Friday night (Sept 8th).
Taking the stage shortly after 9 pm in his signature leather jacket, Idol opened with “Dancing with Myself,” an early hit from his days fronting the short-lived band Generation X.
The show was also classic for its lack of production values. With no screen in sight, Idol opted to drape his logo behind him and treat The Anthem as it was intended: like a large club meant for partying. The only spectacle was the occasional strobe effect. Oh, and his shockingly electric blond hair remains a spectacle all its own!
Idol can still hit all the notes. He is the only singer who can scream and hold a real note at the same time. In fact, his voice is never better than when he is reaching for those emphatic and long high notes or growling in his low register.
The new song “Cage” fits well in Idol’s catalog, feeling like it could have been released in the 1980s. Meanwhile, 1986’s “Be Your Lover” is a string-heavy bouncing throwback to the era of Elvis. Best this reporter could tell from Idol’s introduction, (Anthem is cavernous and can swallow talking, making banter hard to hear) Idol played the ladder as a request from a fan at the meet-and-greet before the show.
Another new song, 2021’s “Bitter Taste,” is Idol’s recounting his horrific 1990 motorcycle accident. It was the most poignant moment of the night, as it took Idol 30 years to work up the courage to write the song.
Idol’s longtime guitarist Steve Stevens had his moment in the spotlight during a skillful solo. It sounded as though he were playing an amped-up “Malagueña” on a purple acoustic-electric guitar. Though the beats per second were crazy, he did not miss a note. Wearing a sparkly black blazer and sporting long hair, Stevens also offered a piece of the iconic Top Gun theme later in the night. Stevens famously played the lead in the recording used in the movie.
Speaking of iconic, Idol sprinkled in his biggest hits throughout the night. “Mony Mony” followed Stevens’ solo, while “Eyes Without a Face” was a nice acoustic detour. “Rebel Yell” closed the main set, and an over-the-top “White Wedding” had the crowd screaming “Start Again” to Idol at the end of the night. It’s as if they wouldn’t have minded if he did, indeed, start all over.
Billy Idol’s music remains an example of rock that remains ageless. Along with Heart, Leppard, and countless others, that Idol remains touring is a testament to the staying power of 80’s music.