Billy Idol stays edgy
Billy Idol has always occupied a comfortable place between punk rock attitude and pop accessibility. Generation X, the band he fronted in the late 1970s and early ’80s, was one of the first punk groups to appear on the iconic British music TV broadcast Top of the Pops, and when he went solo in the ’80s, he used his signature sneer and snarl to deliver catchy pop hits like “White Wedding,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “Rebel Yell,” “Cradle of Love” and “Dancing With Myself.” One of his most successful singles is a cover of ’60s pop-rockers Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Mony Mony.”
So even though Idol retained his spiky bleached-blond hair and his spiky leather jackets well into middle age, he’s certainly not out of place amid the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. Joined by longtime guitarist Steve Stevens, Idol established his first Vegas residency in March 2016 at the House of Blues inside Mandalay Bay. “It’s nostalgic, bombastic and over-the-top, and the audience loved it,” Las Vegas Weekly said of Idol’s HOB show, and the Las Vegas Sun said of the partnership between Idol and Stevens, “There’s no proof the fist-pumping, head-bobbing duo has lost a step onstage.”
This week Idol launches his newest residency at the renovated Pearl Theater at the Palms, part of the hotel-casino’s ongoing overhaul. Idol joins fellow punk-pop genre-hoppers blink-182 as part of the Pearl’s new lineup of mini-residencies, and his initial 10 shows are likely to set the stage for many more, if the past is any indication. “Steve Stevens, my band and I have played Vegas many times and it’s always been a blast,” Idol said in the announcement for the latest residency. “We can’t stay away! Las Vegas keeps us coming back for more.”
After establishing himself as a Vegas regular with his previous residency, Idol now has the chance to branch out a little with this latest show, going beyond just the most popular songs. “The great thing is, we’ve really started to look back to our old catalog and really mix some songs that we don’t normally play,” he told USA Today in September. “So the people who come to the residency will get like the greatest hits, but (you’ll) also get two or three songs we don’t usually play.” Idol also typically gives Stevens an ample showcase, allowing the guitar virtuoso to wow the audience with multiple solo spotlights.
Beyond the upcoming Vegas shows, Idol is also working on a new solo studio album (his first since 2014’s Kings & Queens of the Underground), plus reissues of early Generation X material. He recently put out Vital Idol: Revitalized, a reworking of his top-selling 1985 remix album, this time with brand-new mixes of Idol songs by electronic-music superstars including Moby, Paul Oakenfold and Las Vegas’ own The Crystal Method. It’s another demonstration of how Idol’s music is adaptable for a variety of audiences, without ever losing its distinctive edge.
The Pearl at Palms, 9 p.m. Jan. 18-19, 23 & 25-26, $34.95-$149.95 plus tax and fee. 702.944.3200