Billy Idol, Cheap Trick - WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong

Written by David James Young

Billy Idol, Cheap Trick - WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong

It proved to be somewhat telling that power-pop pioneers Cheap Trick were introduced by a pre-recorded message calling them “the greatest rock & roll band you will ever f**king see” with the f-word bleeped out. The band are clearly hoping to maintain at least some of the edge that came with their heyday, and yet they’re at the age now where they know a naughty word will get a few wags of the finger.

At the very least, the band still know how to have fun and entertain those who’ve come along purely on account of their presence. ??It’s a little gimmicky at times, sure. 5-necked guitars, 12-string basses and glittery jackets, James Brown-style, all point towards rock and roll excess as pure novelty.

It’s almost completely derailed at one point when the PA promptly s**ts itself some 40 minutes in, reminiscent of the non-event when tonight’s headliner attempted to perform at the NFL Grand Final on his previous tour in 2002. Never fear – Surrender, Dream Police, I Want You to Want Me and If You Want My Love all arrived just in time to save the day.

In spite of a handful of ubiquitous singles, it’s a home truth that Billy Idol has struggled to live up to his surname for several years, going through several failed reinventions and a string of dud albums. Not that you could tell from the man in question, of course – on the verge of turning 60, he still behaves, performs and even vaguely looks as though he’s half that. It’s an admirable and even somewhat impressive trait to have, but Idol’s personality alone is not enough to substantiate the overindulgence that came with tonight’s performance.

??Of course, he’s not solely to blame. Lead guitarist and reality TV star Steve Stevens is a formidable and impressive player, to a point. It’s somewhere in the midst of the umpteenth solo of the night that it transmogrifies from exciting to annoying, especially when he waits for crowd response before continuing. Even when the set picks up via tracks from Idol’s original band, Generation X, including Ready Steady Go and Dancing with Myself, it’s offset by forgettable dross such as My Sweet Sixteen and Eyes Without a Face.

Points for effort, but Idol and co ultimately give their audience next to no reason to invest nearly as much as they did. In layman’s: this was not a show that left one crying “More! More! More!”

Image: Billy Idol At WIN Entertainment Centre, March 2015 / Photo: Ashley Mar


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