Have you ever been to a show where the band is having as good a time as the audience is? Billy Idol’s performance last Thursday at the RockBar Theater was just such a show. Nearly 400 fans braved last week’s “Pineapple Express” storms to see the punk rock legend in this rare and exclusive appearance. And they weren’t disappointed. Idol’s voice, with its signature blend of husky and smooth, is as strong as ever.
The crowd screamed itself into an ecstatic fervor as he opened the show with “Dancing with Myself” and high-fived the fans closest to the stage. “We did what we set out to do,” Jimmy Arceneaux, RockBar’s Talent Buyer said. “We created an intimate environment for Mr. Billy Idol to perform. I feel that the RockBar Theater is going to bring to San Jose what the Warfield brings to San Francisco, plus things they might not touch. Idol and his people were very happy.”
The band played all the dance classics: “Rebel Yell,” “Mony Mony,” and “Sweet Sixteen,” and Idol showed his softer side with the pop ballad “Save Me Now.” Toned and tanned, Idol donned new outfits from time to time, changing the look and the mood. Once from a white tank top to a leather vest, his glistening physique bathed now in red light, tambourine quivering in his hand. Strong, soulful, tender. Another time from his signature black leather and studs to sexy see-through shirts. Virile, energetic, handsome, he fist-pumped the air, he stuck out his tongue, he swore and clapped and pulled his upper lip into its sardonic curl. He was every bit the Billy Idol we remember from his early music videos, an art form he was one of the first to use well.
Legendary guitarist Steve Stevens, hair teased and sprayed jet black, smoldering cigarette dangling from his mouth, body arched over his guitar, was as incredible to see as he was to hear. Guitarist Billy Morrison, newer to the band, struck up an immediate rapport with the audience, flashing them his devilish grin. Idol and the band had great chemistry, both among themselves and with the audience.
Intermittently, Idol would pause, turn to face us, the audience, and gesture with his arms upwards like an orchestra conductor, urging us louder, louder, louder. He was a magician, a sorcerer, a wizard, casting his spell. “We’re going to keep rocking forever!” he commanded. We yelled, danced, and sang along to every word. San Jose was in the presence of a rock god and it felt oh-so-sweet to worship him.
Article by Anna Bagirov
Photography by Shane Hagerty