My friends at Red Butte tell me that each year there is a booking so hot it makes people from their junior high math class call them to try to get tickets. This year that show was Billy Idol—yes, the sneering, bleach blonde, devil-may-care attitude’d ’80s rocker, Billy Idol.
Apparently, as I’ve joked all summer, people want more, more, more.
For this hot-ticket event, people had to wait all summer—it was the last Red Butte show of the year—and as the crowd filled in, it was not your average cheese-and-wine crowd. Interspersed on the lawn in small, but mighty numbers were men wearing Billy Idol-esque wigs and women wearing tee-shirts with Billy’s lead guitar player (and fantastic hair wearer) Steve Stevens. In other words, there were people at Red Butte who were there to actually hear the music. What a world!
Lets start with this: Billy Idol has more costume changes than Cher (technically, four). He came onto the stage wearing a leather jacket and T-shirt—both of which he eventually lost, only to change and change again into other leather jackets until—surprise! He ended up shirtless and gyrating on stage.
Billy Idol has a whole lot of fun in front of a crowd (though he kept saying how happy he was to be in, “Salt Lake, Utah!”) and his crowd has a lot of fun with him. But, I couldn’t help but notice that his tended to lean on the audience in the form of call-and-responses when the songs called for the highest notes. And, perhaps in true Billy Idol fashion, he actually sounded best when utilizing his trademark growl.
I’m going to be honest, while he was onstage he was great, and what he lacked in voice he made up for in energy and enthusiasm. But, I think he may have spent a quarter of the short setlist offstage, depending on his band’s musical chops to entertain the crowd while he rested his vocal chords—luckily, there’s some serious chops there, so it worked (Stevens wrote the Top Gun theme so that was included). It’s also worth noting that Idol didn’t play an instrument at all until the encore—and then, just barely—instead he focused on singing (he did have a belt holster for his mic—that was cool).
The setlist included all the songs you’d expect to hear at a Billy Idol show—“Rebel Yell,” “Eyes Without a Face” (ed note: What does that song even mean, anyway? The idea terrifies me), “White Wedding,” and “Mony, Mony.” The latter two being part of a two song encore and, Idol did not refrain from shouting out the frat-boy addendum to the chorus, one that is too vulgar to publish here.
The show, ultimately clocked in shy of 90 minutes—despite the lyrics suggesting otherwise, Idol, now 62, no longer wants more, more more at the midnight hour. Instead, as my boyfriend suggested to me, perhaps he wants to snore, snore, snore. But then again, so do I.
Til next year, Red Butte.