There seem to be quite a few musically-based releases coming out at the moment, some documentary and some concerts. Add to that list a very special, one-off performance by the legendary Billy Idol. Picking up on my rekindled interest in Billy courtesy of his superb performance in Glasgow last year, I jumped on the chance to have a sneak preview of this release.
The show is divided into two sections in front of only 250 fans: an electrifying full band concert at sunset with special guests that illuminated the surrounding Black Canyon of the Colorado River, and an acoustic duo set on the roof of the powerhouse directly at the foot of Hoover Dam on the Nevada/Arizona state line. Yes. The Hoover Dam. Not a random gig venue somewhere, but one of the largest man-made structures in the world. Points for being different!
For your pennies you get a ninety minute show from beginning to end, including Billy’s intro and educational interjections which are well worth watching. Picture and sound quality is top notch throughout with great camera angles which show off the venue itself as well as Billy’s show.
The first part is the acoustic set right at the foot of the dam itself. Idol and Steve Stevens are the duo involved and you can genuinely feel their excitement as they walk onto their unique stage for the first time. Of course they play “Eyes Without A Face” given that it namechecks Las Vegas (Nevada) and mentions the state line… which runs though the Dam itself. “Rebel Yell” partners it to round off the brief warmup.
With the dam further into the background, the main show takes place on a converted helicoper pad. Joining Billy is a hell of a guest lineup: The Kills’ Alison Mosshart, former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, and No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal. The fans and the crew are featured as much as the band so I’m sure they’re going to sell at least 250 copies of the DVD! Certainly the show they got was a memorable one, and the that memory has been well recorded.
The setlist is a career-spanning one featuring tracks like “Cradle of Love”, “Mony Mony”, “John Wayne” and “Running From The Ghost”. The latter is a personal favourite and shows that even after 40-plus years, Idol is capable of writing and performing some superb new songs. There’s no denying that the songs are recorded live, with Billy’s coughs when the smoke blows back over the stage being as clear as each guitar strum! Watching him live reminded me of the aforementioned Glasgow show. He definitely doesn’t have the energy he had forty years ago, but FFS the guy’s almost 70 – and what he lacks in motion he makes up for with attitude and that voice.
By the time “Mony Mony” finishes and “To Be A Lover” kicks in, the sun has gone down and a simple but effective light show really emphasises the natural rock formations overshadowing the tiny stage. You really get the feeling that so much planning went into this little shindig, and its paid off. The audio quality, as I said, is top notch and really makes the whole thing sound like a much bigger event than it actually is.
While the main show itself only runs for about an hour, it’s an hour well spent. The preamble is worth watching, as I said, and the DVD/Blu-Ray extras include that acoustic set in full, as well as an interview with Steve Stevens. A cracking selection of songs from a big back catalogue, performed as well as you’d hope for and at a unique setting. Absolutely worth picking up for any Idol fan.
Billy Idol: State Line – Live At Hoover Dam will be available on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital download from December 11th
Header image by Jane Stuart