Billy Idol at the Hammerstein Ballroom, September 10, 2003
After witnessing Billy Idol in concert, I know this much is true: at 48 years old, he can get more young, hot, able pussy than all of the Strokes combined.
Idol is a phenomenal rock star who incorporates an attitude, a cheesiness, and a leather-sheathed cock(iness) into each breath and bleached-blond spike on his head. It also helps that he sang some of the most memorable songs of the 1980s. Idol brought punk posturing to a mainstream music audience with radio-ready songs and MTV videos that retained a dangerous, lecherous, and bad-ass bite while whacking off to pop and dance melodies. When Idol wasn't scowling, his deep lulling tones made women horny. He's got the kind of voice that makes a girl touch herself.
On September 10 at the Hammerstein Ballroom, there were plenty of men and women who were ready to get all "Mony, Mony," if you know what I mean.
And, yes, the crowd was exactly what you'd expect a Billy Idol crowd to be rowdy dorks from New Jersey and Long Island in Giants football jerseys and leather jackets.
Heavy eye make-up and clunky silver jewelry adorned scores of middle-aged
women who were looking for a second (third, fourth?) wind.
There were Abercrombie-tailored guys with tribal tattoos and Hamptons chicks with manicures. But the real Idol die-hards were easy to pick out. I just followed the smell of Budweiser and Eternity cologne and was soon led to a cluster of dudes with bald spots radiating through their dyed-black hair. "Last time I saw him it was the Coliseum in '84," barked one guy with a bandana hugging his head. "Wait'll you see 'im. Fuckin awesome!" I decided then that I never wanted to leave this magical place.
When Idol emerged, he was smug and cool, giving the crowd the thumbs up (no middle finger yet). The skin on his face was stretched a bit unnaturally. With his black-leather garb, spikey coiff, and taut face, he looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies. Close to stealing the spotlight was guitar god Steve Stevens, who played alongside Idol way back in the early '80s. They opened with "Cradle of Love" and "Dancing With Myself," and I've never heard more "Wooooo!!!"s in my life. Idol irked me, though, because he was sorta crooning. It was like hearing Chris Isaak cover the songs. All was righted once the "Sweat! Sweat! Sweat!" part came in, and the Sneer launched a couple thousand fists. Yeow.
A sanguine Billy sang all the hits that made him Vital Idol "Flesh for Fantasy," "Eyes Without A Face," "Rebel Yell," "Mony Mony," etc. and so forth. The intro to "White Wedding" was just Idol and Stevens, with the latter on acoustic guitar. Idol roared out the "start agaaaaaaaain" part and the band broke into a bombastic version of the creepy synth-stroked song. People talked during "Sweet 16" but when Idol covered "I Walk the Line" by a then-still-living Johnny Cash, the crowd sang along incredulously. Idol even went shirtless for a few numbers and didn't look half bad. Cheesier than Velveeta, yes, but nowhere near Sammy Hagar territory.
At times, the experience felt a bit like a giant prom or Jersey wedding because that's what these songs will always remind me of, but Billy Idol flat-out fucking rocked like the larger-than-life cartoon monster that he is.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Warlocks at Irving Plaza, September 23, 2003
| ||Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Warlocks' head honcho Bobby Hecksher (vocals, guitar) leads this seven-person, double-drummer psych-rock band. The most entertaining part of their set is watching the two drummers bash in synchronicity on their kits. That said, I can see a similar performance on any subway platform. Problem here is that their formula is a long shot. A band with one vocalist, no one on back up vocals, and seven instrumentalists is gonna need a really powerful front man with an amazing, dynamic voice to take off (like Electric Six's Dick Valentine). Hecksher's fey wheeze and lithe presence tanked. So the Warlocks were pretty damn underwhelming. And from the crowd's reaction, I wasn't alone in my thinking.
At the end of the set, half the band lamely threw around their equipment,
but the crowd didn't actually "get" that it was the end because one guy was
left onstage tooling around with his guitar.
The screen dropped down before he left the stage
(awkward!) and people weren't really sure when to clap. It spoke volumes about the set.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club the trio of Peter Hays, Robert Turner, and Nick Jago ultimately did much more with much less. People are quick to write them off as ennui-toting tightwads who would rather be set on fire than giggle, but not only were they mildly amicable, they actually moved around onstage and left their boredom at the bar. On tour to support their second album Take Them On, On Your Own, BRMC's Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz-fuck of melody and brittle edges drove the temperature up so high that one nutty fan kept screaming "RAWK motherfucker!!!" until he was hoarse. So not sexy, dude. Speaking of, some fat bald guy made it onto the stage, raised his arms victoriously, and looked happier than a pig in shit. What a thrill. The band ripped through "Stop," "Six Barrel Shotgun," "Spread Your Love," and "Whatever Happened to My Rock N Roll" like a saw through a sandbar and made the set feel like a drug-addled orgy in a nuclear power plant.
The guys may be untouchably cool, but fans found them ironically embraceable. Sadly, the members don't have that kind of affection for each other. Hays and Turner couldn't have stood farther apart on stage. One of them must have cooties.
Send This Page to a Friend Join Our Mailing List Current Stories
Classified Ads Music News NYC Gig Listings
More NY Rock Confidential Installments:
by Jeanne Fury:
Aug. '03: The Lawrence Arms, None More Black, The Star Spangles
Jul. '03: Drive-By Truckers, Barbez, Dresden Dolls, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
Jun. '03: Fannypack, Liam Lynch, Stratford 4, Nada Surf, Amazombies, ARE Weapons, Deadly Snakes, Essential Logic
Apr. '03: Turbonegro, Madball
Mar. '03: Manda and the Marbles, Count the Stars, American Hi-Fi
Feb. '03: Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Tiger Mountain, Blood Brothers
Jan. '03: Enon, Penny Arcade
Dec. '02: Lost City Angels, McLusky, Black Keys, World/Inferno Friendship Society
Nov. '02: CMJ, Diamanda Galas, Longwave, Division of Laura Lee
Oct. '02: Sights, ESG, Princess Superstar, Bush Tetras
Sept. '02: Original Sinners, Northern State, Opti-Grab
Aug. '02: Paybacks, Gore Gore Girls, Cato Salsa Experience, Burning Brides
Jul. '02: Bantam, Girls Against Boys, the Makers, the Bangs
Jun. '02: Slut Em Go, Darediablo, the Liars, the Chromatics, Lovelife
May '02: Hellacopters, Gaza Strippers, Lunachicks
Apr. '02: Distillers, Nekromantix
Feb. '02: Metropolis Fest, Bianca Butthole Benefit, Le Tigre
Jan. '02: Sam Bisbee
Dec. '01: El Vez and Tammy Faye Starlite
Nov. '01: Tracy and the Plastics, Crowns on 45
Oct. '01: Reid Paley
Sept. '01: Ladyfest East
Aug. '01: Betty Blowtorch and Candy Ass
Jul. '01: Porcupine Tree
May '01: Ladyfest East Benefit, the Bellrays and the Greenhornes
Apr. '01: She-Rock-O-Rama, Blast Furnace
Mar. '01: Babe the Blue Ox, the Gossip, Knoxville Girls, White Stripes
Feb. '01: Sarah Dougher, Glen Phillips and John Mayer
Jan. '01: Melissa Ferrick
Dec. '00: Joy Askew
Nov. '00: Natasha and the MGB
Oct. '00: Heather Eatman
Aug. '00: Miracle of '86, Ultimate Fakebook, Sit n' Spin
July '00: Chickfest 2000
by Mistress Persephone:
Apr '00: Joan Jett and Reverend Horton Heat
Feb '00: Elvis tribute at the Continental featuring Mr. Monster, Needlehead, X-Possibles
Dec '99: The Serpenteens
Oct '99: Misfits
by Miss Adena:
Aug '99: Cabaret
July '99: Ancel and the Electric Church
June '99: Tuuli from Toronto rocks CBGB
May '99: The Rise and Fall of Bikini Contest
by Didi Delicious:
01/11/99: the Velvet Mafia
12/04/98: the Misfits
10/19/98: Didi interviews DJ Chumley and DJ Quick
09/01/98: Hellfire '98 (benefit for NY Underground Film Festival) featuring Double Dong and Go-Go Pup
07/28/98: Mad Daddys, Nina Hagen, Blondie
06/04/98: the first annual New York City Tattoo Convention
05/02/98: Didi's S&M Special with Flesh Fetish
03/28/98: No More Tears and Soft Parade
02/27/98: Ace Frehley, Sebastian Bach, Mick Rock, Lenny Kaye, ex-Foreigner Mick Jones, ex-Hanoi Rocks Michael Monroe, the new Max's Kansas City, Joy Ryder, Misstress Formika
01/30/98: King Norris, Karen Black, more
12/26/97: Ramones, The Dictators, The Undead, more
11/29/97-12/11/97: Sexus, Princess Superstar, more
09/19/97-10/26/97: Blowtop, Crazy Raymond & the Watchdogs, more
05/21/97-08/17/97: Toilet Boys, Nashville Pussy, Turbo A.C.s, Waldos, Sisters Grimm, The Independents, more
01/18/97-03/30/97: Sea Monster, Speed McQueen, Bombshell, Dee Dee Ramone, Jayne County, more
09/19/96-12/19/96: Coyote Shivers, The Living Daylights, more
07/23/96-09/09/96: Electric Frankenstein, The Wild Bunch, more