© Dani Kammler
Photos by Dani Kammler
Live Gig Review by: Edel Fitzgerald
A smattering of black leather, chains and blonde spikes start to creep from alleyways and corners of Thomas Street, all heading in the same direction, Vicar Street theatre. No one needs any further hint of who is taking to the stage tonight.
Doors open at 7:30 and there is a steady flow from the off. No support act, but a jock from Dublin’s rock station Radio Nova spins some 80’s rock, preparing the head bobbing crowd for what lay ahead. After a series of cleverly mashed-up classics, the lights went down and the jock exited the stage. The now full house roared for the main man with chants of “Billy! Billy! Billy!”
And under an unfamiliar synth intro, he responded to their call immediately, launching straight into “Postcards from the Past” from his new album “Kings & Queens of the Underground”. A much softer pop-esque offering compared to the punk rock productions of decades past, this album has been much anticipated by fans and those fans had clearly done their homework, each one singing along with him, knowing exactly where every fist pump belonged. For the curious revellers among the fans, the ones who came along to see if he still had it, they hung on his every note, scanning his vocals for any shake or break. Once he broke into the next, more familiar offering, “Cradle of Love”, they were comforted by the blanket of Idol that nothing had changed. He still had it.
The first single release from the new album “Can’t Break Me Down” followed, and then, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with “Dancing With Myself” and localising the line “If I had the chance, I’d ask Dublin to dance” was met with screams of approval. As was his disrobing! Sporting the torso a man half his age would envy, he slipped his mic into a holster around his waist and stripped his jacket and shirt off, picking up his tambourine from the drum riser as the opening riff of “Flesh for Fantasy” commenced, right on cue, as the audience roared “FLESH!”, they weren’t disappointed.
Trading his tambourine for an acoustic guitar, another two offerings from the new album, the infectious “Save Me Now” was followed by the furiously fast “Whiskey & Pills”.
Taking time to catch his breath and interact with his audience, he told the story of Ed, who had built a candy castle for his beloved…the crowd were again one step ahead as he steered us along the melodic “Sweet Sixteen” before gently guiding his flock into the title track of the new album “Kings and Queens of the Underground”. A trip down memory lane, an ode to many of his hits, tracking the highs and lows of life in the fast lane, the knocks and bruises brought by fame, the brutally honest poetic offering led the venue into the softer side of the night.
Treated to some exquisite tremolo by the electric Steve Stevens, who traded guitars mid song without missing a beat for “Eyes Without A Face”, worked like a wizard at a fridge-sized stack rack on his right, twiddling and twisting effects like his guitar was some kind of cosmic utensil.
Not an overly energetic show, Billy did give subtle hints to the secret to his toned physique by doing star jumps in between verses of “LA Woman” before exiting the stage, leaving us to be hypnotised by a Spanish guitar solo Stevens set. Teasing the crowd with hints of Zeppelin, he jokingly started into “Stairway to Heaven” before flipping the bird at the screaming crowd and reverting back into “Going to California” as his cigarette dangled from his lips.
Idol returns with his band to rip into “King Rocker” with a glitch that left Stevens momentarily silenced, resulting in threatening gestures toward the panicking guitar tech that was trying to trade instruments in the side-lines.
Ending the set with “Rebel Yell”, the roof was certainly shaking in the Thomas Street venue as each band member were introduced and applauded throughout the song, then left the stage. Returning for an encore of “White Wedding” and “Mony Mony”, each member stepping forward for their share of the love, Idol threw drumsticks and picks to outstretched hands and signed vinyl and posters before taking his leave.
Still as alive and kicking as his previous Dublin shows in The Point Depot, the fans, leaving the venue smiling, with sweat soaked spikes and leather, got all they expected and more from their noble King, who rose from the Underground to catch their fall.