Review and p
hotos – Billy Idol and Steve Stevens at the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, Mar 3 2019
– review by Julie Rankin, photos by Scott Alexander
Almost four decades since their first collaboration, Billy Idol and guitarist Steve Stevens are still asking you to dance.
On the first stop of their North American tour, titled Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged, the duo performed for an excited crowd at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre. A simple performance with no frills, the show was all about the music–and the memories. With Idol’s vocals and Stevens’ acoustic guitar (plus a drum machine they supposedly bought for $125), the two rockers preformed a selection of trimmed-down fan favourites and a few punk-rock covers, with plenty of reminiscing between tracks.
Idol and Stevens opened the show with the 1981 single “Dancing with Myself.” Originally released by Idol’s second band Generation X, the song prompted Idol to reminisce about finding inspiration for the hit while watching disco kids in Tokyo dancing with their reflections instead of each other. The first of many memories, various other anecdotes were shared throughout the night. From insights into the songs and notable careers of these two iconic
Nods to the origins of rock included a cover of the Kinks’, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” and “Shakin’ all Over” by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. The audience clapped along as Idol performed an acapella rendition of Eddie Cochran’s, “Twenty Flight Rock”. Not ‘too tired to rock’ as the song says, Idol and Stevens still put on an entertaining show.
Mid-set Idol took a short break from the stage and Stevens took the spotlight for an impressive, flamenco-esque guitar solo. Idol returned to play the 1986 single, “Don’t Need a Gun”. Red lights shone down on the stage for the tune, which features lyrics about ‘Red hot loves’ and ‘Blood red lights’.
The fired-up crowd didn’t seem to mind when Idol forgot the lyrics to the second verse of, “Eyes Without a Face”. The spontaneous banter that ensued while they tried to remember only added to the authenticity of the performance. Though some audience members called out the first line from the back, the convenience of modern technology (in the form of lyrics on a phone) helped to get the artist back on track.
While the music was certainly enjoyable, the focus of the evening was on the memories as the audience reacted happily to their favourites and Idol and Stevens shared stories from the past. The duo ended the nostalgic night with two of their hits from the early eighties, “White Wedding” and “Rebel Yell”. Though they were on stage for an hour and a half, the early show ended just after 9:30pm. After 38 years, the cheering audience still wanted more (‘more, more’).
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