August 7th, 2015 will always be the date of The Grand Sierra Resorts reopening of the $10,000,000 remodel of the Grand Theatre, and what better way to kick off the new age of musical performances than with the legendary Billy Idol. Behind the scenes teams of contractors and laborers put in massive overtime hours to pull off this event. Final approval to open the venue to the public was granted by the fire department only that morning. As the crowd of Idol fans was gathering outside, staff was still putting on final touches and cleaning the theatre to make it perfect.
Although the stage setup was fairly basic, that impression vanished as soon as the band took the stage. Billy was outfitted in an all black outfit with a thigh length jacket appropriately adorned with studs and zippers, and wearing leather suspenders hanging down past his knees, just the way any self respecting rocker would wear them. Lead guitarist Steve Stevens had the rock and roll big hair working (with a good deal of hair spray holding it up), a wildly printed silk shirt, scarf with skull and crossbones, and black leather pants. Someone had to wear a pair (Sorry if that sounds like a ‘fashion channel’ correspondent).
The Show started with Postcards From The Past off of their first new album in eight years, Kings and Queens of The Underground. This was a powerful opening salvo figuratively making the statement, “I’m back!” Billy marched around the stage sneering and pumping his clinched fist for most of the show. He interacted with the crowd by physically reaching down to them from the edge of the stage many times. There were a couple slight costume changes during the show which eventually featured his bare and sweaty chest as well as a shirtless Billy Idol. This was a pretty daring move for an almost 60 year old rock and roller. He wasn’t sporting a six pack, but he does look pretty good for his age.
Lead guitarist, Steve Stevens is an amazing guitar player having also played with Sebastian Bach, Vince Neil, and Michael Jackson among others. He burned up some fantastic solos and did his own stage strutting throughout the show. He pulled out some classic Jimi Hendrix moves by playing the guitar behind is head and with his teeth, although no at the same time. That would be very impressive.
Backing up these two dynamic front men was Billy’s amazing band made up of Stephen McGrath on bass guitar and vocals, Billy Morrison on rhythm guitar and backup vocals (he also has writing credits for over half the songs on the new album), Erik Eldenius on drums, and Paul Trudeau on keyboards and guitar.
This show deserves nothing but praise. It was filled with a palpable energy that got the crowd completely involved. At 60 years old (almost) Billy Idol didn’t miss a beat. He strutted, he snarled, he sweated and he tossed his shirt off with no reservations. During their performance of The Doors LA Woman there was a power failure on stage that left only Billy Idol with power, but he kept going like a true professional. It only lasted about a minute or so, but he quipped that a power failure with only his guitar playing was the worst nightmare.
Dean Martin was the first performer in the original Grande Theatre. With Billy Idol going on record as the new venue opener a clear watermark has been laid on the changes in music and theatrical performance since then, and there’s no looking back. Does this mean Billy Idol is our Dean Martin? Eh, probably not, but so what. He’s Billy F*cking Idol (that’s how he introduced himself). We are fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful world of entertainment options.
Here’s the set list which was a challenge to compile:
Postcards From The Past (from new album*)
Cradle of Love
Can’t Break Me Down (from new album)
Dancing With Myself (Generation X)
Flesh For Fantasy
Save Me Now (from new album)
Ready Steady Go (Generation X)
Eyes Without a Face
LA Woman (The Doors)
Steve Stevens Guitar Solo
Whisky and Pills (from new album)
Mony Mony (Tommy James and the Shondells)
*New album is Kings and Queens of The Underground
by Nick McCabe – Front Row Photo
Many more pictures can be found here.
…and the beat goes on.