June 6, 2014 Billy Idol’s Legendary Performance The Space Westbury, NY 6-1-14
One of the most recognized names from the 1980’s new wave of rock is the charismatic Billy Idol. After spending the earlier part of his career in the British punk scene as a member of the band Generation X, Idol launched to super-stardom with a solo career which began in 1982, followed with three consecutive platinum selling albums, and a list of memorable singles which can still be heard all over mainstream radio today. With his bleach-blonde spiked hair, lean physic, and a face that screams rock-n-roll; Idol is a figure still garnishing attention from the fans of previous decades as well as the new generation. Thankfully for music, Idol has not stepped away from performing in his extensive career of nearly four decades. Idol continues to tour the world regularly with legendary guitarist Steve Stevens and a veteran touring band featuring bassist Stephen McGrath, Keyboardist Derek Sherinian, guitarist Billy Morrison, and drummer Erik Eldenius. Now preparing for a month long European tour, Idol made three special North American appearances as a warm-up for the summer. One of the lucky destinations to have Idol come around was the newly established The Space in Westbury, NY on Sunday June 1st. Refurbished from an all but abandoned classic style movie theater, The Space is now a state of the art modern music venue with the charm of tradition, which was the perfect landing spot for Idol to play. With fans of all ages piling into the main entrance, many picked up their beverage of choice and headed onto the floor and into the balconies to rock.
With no supporting act, The Space was packed to its 1,500 capacity as Idol took at the stage shortly after 8 PM. With each member coming onto the stage one by one before Idol finally appeared, the cheers poured down as the opening began with a newer track by the name of “Postcards From The Past”. Moving across the stage with ease, Idol sang strongly and vividly to the rabid fans, wasting no time, going right into “Cradle of Love” and followed by the massive “Dancing with Myself”. Idol made eye contact with fans, pointed at those dancing on the floor, and most of all had a great time. Stevens blistered on lead guitar with finger work that makes him one of the best rock guitarists of the past twenty years. Matching his performance on his axe, Stevens also had a vibrant flare for glamorous rock showmanship winding up his strumming arm like a windmill, playing his guitar behind his head, and so much more.
Keeping the hearts beating at rapid speed, Idol went into the mesmerizing “Flesh for Fantasy” followed by more new tracks named ” Love and Glory” and “One Breath Away”. Having been nearly a decade since Idol’s Devil’s Playground album, it was exciting to hear fresh new tunes which have all the aspects of a Billy Idol song with a modern progression that makes one itch for the forthcoming Kings & Queens of the Underground album to be released. Mixing in more fan favorites, Idol went into the Generation X song “Ready Steady Go” and then the 1986 classic “Sweet Sixteen”. Displaying affection for his band mates, Idol gave each member equal attention approaching them on stage grooving to their rhythm as he leaned into them momentarily. By this point in the show Idol was baring more skin with just his vest. Having been a sex icon to many women of the 1980’s, Idol still remains in excellent shape and has the energy on stage of men half his age. With his classic lip curl and fist pumping toward the audience, it was like being transported back into the golden age of rock.
Treating Long Island to some more new tracks, “Ghost in My Guitar” was a calm cool mix of powerful guitar licks and the soothing side of Idol’s voice while “Whiskey & Pills” rocked hard and fast. The audience did not waver, remaining interested through the new tunes, and that is when the synthesizers of former Dream Theater keyboardist Sherinian warmed the atmosphere in The Space, lifting into the new wave classic ” Eyes Without a Face”. As beautiful a song as it was three decades ago, Idol and his band recaptured the magic in perfect fashion. McGrath and Morrison both engaged the audiences as well with enticing interaction with facial expression. It was at this time Idol paid tribute to rock legends The Doors and performed his rendition of “LA Woman”. Having always had the type of voice which could be easily heard as influenced by great vocalists like Elvis and Jim Morrison, Idol crooned with style and edge when needed. Jamming through more Generation X tunes like “King Rocker” and “Love Like Fire”, Idol then blasted forward to “Bitter Pill”.
Having covered a tremendous amount of ground in the already hour plus set, Idol unleashed “Blue Highway”. The screaming and applauds kept coming and Idol graciously thanked the room and candidly stated to everyone “Thank you for making my life so fucking great”. He then went on to say the same to his long-time guitar player and friend Stevens and the energy level peaked through the roof as they went into “Rebel Yell”. With sweat dripping from their brow, the audience chanted along each word of the legendary rock tune like there was no tomorrow. Biding ado to The Space, the band walked off stage only to return to more cheers. Starting off the encore, Idol said, “Steve, show them how a hit song is made”, which gave way into the killer opening riff of “White Wedding”. Showing no signs of fatigue, Idol belted out each word to the track with authority. Saving the most party-like track for last, Idol closed out with his hit cover of Tommy James & the Shondells’ “Mony Mony”. With a smile and look of appreciation, Idol and his band thanked the audience and exited the stage for the final time.
Billy Idol is a tremendous rock icon which is not merely touring for alternative motives. This guy still has it, he can still rock with the best of them and sound as strong vocally as ever. Transcending a variety of styles of music, it was amazing to see punk rockers, metalheads, alternative scene, and new generation teens at the show. While Idol is scheduled to kick off his European tour, which will extend through the 4th of July, fans can only hope he returns stateside for a full-blown tour thereafter upon the release of the new album and his self-written autobiography Dancing With Myself due out in October 2014.