Gig review: Billy Idol, Glasgow

Steve Stevens gives Billy Idol axeman support in a hymn to longevity. Picture: Bethan Hughes
Steve Stevens gives Billy Idol axeman support in a hymn to longevity. Picture: Bethan Hughes
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Who would have thought, looking at the original crop of UK punk rockers, that William Broad, aka pretty boy Billy Idol, would be one of the ones to play the long game, plotting a career course which took him from Bromley contingent to the Sunset Strip and here to a packed Academy?

Billy Idol - O2 Academy, Glasgow

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“We’re going to keep on rocking,” he declared with regards to technical issues, though he might well have been citing his life philosophy. As he approaches his 60th birthday, Idol and his band, including right hand axeman Steve Stevens, remain committed to an almost cartoon degree to the LA rocker aesthetic – screeching guitar solos, feet on monitors and a reptilian look, preserved in hairspray, bleach and spray-on leather.

But that unabashed fidelity to old school rock’n’roll mixed with the vaudeville of heavy metal theatre was what made this show so enjoyable and played to Idol’s strengths as an entertainer. If his energy levels were flagging, he could always whip up some excitement by striking a fist-clenched pose while his band ripped into another accessible melodic hard rock number.

They picked up the pace to almost nosebleed speed for the dumb new wave fun of Dancing With Myself, one of a couple of tracks in the set by Idol’s old punk band Generation X. The rudimentary Ready Steady Go was typical of their bubblegum British Ramones schtick. The stealthy Eighties rocker Flesh for Fantasy is Simple Minds’ Someone Somewhere In Summertime by any other nam, but fantastic bombast nonetheless. Idol duly gave his hefty female fanbase a flash of his sweat-lathered body of work, then took a much needed breather on the acoustic croon Sweet Sixteen, a fine throwback rock’n’roller, summoning the spirit of Gene Vincent.

There was great excitement at the sultry guitar intro to Eyes Without a Face. This is Idol’s Bryan Ferry moment, bolstered by his burly bassist on the girly backing vocal hook. However, the show lost a bit of momentum through a jolly jam of The Doors’ LA Woman and some protracted solo string-shredding from Stevens while Idol changed into a fresh shirt before swinging back on track with the playfully overwrought hits Rebel Yell and White Wedding and an encore tear through Tommy James & the Shondells’ beat pop classic Mony Mony.