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Billy Idol @ The Fillmore, 6/26/08

June 27, 2008

It’s the most packed I’ve ever seen The Fillmore. Or, perhaps I usually arrive much earlier and am in the front row, unaware of what is going on behind me. I’m only able to stand in about the 10th row, and it sucks. Damn, I am spoiled.

Billy Idol is an icon: the spiky white blond hair, those lips, great bone structure. At 52, he’s kept it up quite well. In this hit laden evening, he manages to do about 8 ‘costume’ changes- sporting different shirts each time. He plays some good air guitar and drums- and would probably beat many of last night’s competitors. There’s lots of fist pumps and dancing around. He’s energetic, and makes a lot of eye contact with the audience, pointing at people further back in the crowd, handing out drumsticks. His voice is still phenomenal, showing no age.

Steve Stevens may have impressed me more than Billy Idol. His guitar work was mesmerizing, his instruments works of art. He was very showy- playing behind his head and doing the round the world strums.

The setlist was phenomenal- hit after hit they laid it all out on the table, letting the crowd have what they wanted. They did some acoustic arrangements for some of the songs- including White Wedding, which was kinda cool only because they finished it up plugged in. He also customized Hot in the City and LA Woman for San Francisco. Eyes Without a Face might be my favorite Billy Idol song, but it doesn’t sound as great live.

The first thing Billy said to the crowd was interesting. He said that the first time he performed in SF, it was 1978, and he was on methadryl. I don’t know what methadryl is, but it sounds pretty hardcore.

The crowd was full of assholes. It seemed like date night- lots of girls dressed up in heels with big bags that kept hitting me as they walked by….which was about every other song. Seriously, people kept coming and going the whole night. And they talked to each other during the quieter songs. Do you really need to discuss such-and-such during Sweet Sixteen? I mean, come on.

The show ended with an extended version of Mony Mony, where the drummer was replaced by some other dude so he could play guitar, and the keyboardist also joined them on guitar. Billy Idol also had a guitar- so there were five strings up there. It was pretty impressive. Stevens and the drummer had a guitar duel- where they did the dueling banjos style play-off, which climaxed with them doing the fingerwork on each others guitars. I hadn’t seen that before.

It was 1 and a half hours of blissful nostalgia. And to top it off, we got posters at the end. Always a plus.

Setlist (may not be in the right order):
Cradle of Love
Dancing With Myself
Flesh for Fantasy
John Wayne
Shock to the System
Sweet Sixteen
White Wedding
Eyes Without A Face
Hot in the City (SF Style)
Ready Steady Go
LA Woman (SF Style)
Rebel Yell
Mony Mony

Link to Flickr pics from the evening

Billy Idol performance: 8.5/10
venue (The Fillmore): 8/10
crowd/scene: 5/10
value ($55.00/ticket): 6.5/10
memorable: 8.5/10


  1. It was methadrine (speed), I haven’t heard it called that in many many years. Nice review. You pretty much nailed it. I was in the front row and he shook my hand but gave the drumstick to the cute young chick next to me. It was her first concert so that was a good score.

  2. Probably was “World Comin’ Down” instead of “Shock to the System”. That’s what the second set last night (the 27th) had.

    I agree with your review – my experience was similar. A lot of dilettantes in the house, but a great concert!

  3. Great review! I linked to it in mine to save me some time 🙂

    And holy hell he does look damn good for 52.

    Having come to the show straight from another party I was, regrettably, in a dress and heels. Hopefully I wasn’t one of the annoying girls that hit you with a big bag!

  4. It was my first Billy Idol concert. He’s 52 and I’m 58. We both waited too long, but the wait was definitely worth it. I never stopped dancing for the whole time! I lost at least 5 pounds (and I’m right around 300). I didn’t feel tired, just GOOD! I sang and yelled for nearly two straight hours, and my voice is now shot, though I did manage a pretty good rendition of “Rebel Yell” myself at karaoke last night.

    The crowd was mostly good, 3/4 of the way back in the hall. Everyone was nearly fully engaged on all songs. Great set list!

    There was one asshole in front of me that never moved a muscle the whole night. During Mony Mony I actually saw him yawn. That was the last straw! I put my mouth to his ear and yelled, “Is your f#cking soul DEAD?”

    It was a great concert and a great time, and your review is pretty much right on for Friday night too. I got the tickets late from an online broker, so they were expensive. They were worth every damn penny even though my date flaked and I had to rescue a cute blond from the scalpers and gave her my extra one for free. If she reads this, OK, I admit it, it was mainly because you are so cute, but PAY IT FORWARD anyway, sweetie.

    Ernie Out

  5. I was dying to see Billy Idol. After I bought the tickets i told a friend that I was going and she knocked me off my cloud when she told me that she had seen Billy a while back and it was horrible beause he was drunk and slurry.So i went into Friday’s show with low expectations and crossed my fingers hoping that sobriety has been good to Billy.
    Holy Christ was I surprised. Not only does he look good,strike that,look great.His Voice was Phenomenal!He hit high notes,low notes,growls and yells like a man half his age.During Flesh for Fantasy,when he sang “you see and feel my sex attack” I do believe I actually did.(fans self )
    I thought his performance was clever.He came out mellow and built the crowd up and then unleashed a powerhouse energy that was infectious.If you werent dancing or singing or pumping your fist into the air then you are broken and nothing will ever make you happy.
    That was rock and roll at its core.Sexy,Powerful and real.I went to see the Police a few months back and felt like they had violated me with the boring uninspired performances of some of my favorite songs.Billy did just the opposite.I am a fan reborn.I went home and made ssure there are no gaps in my Billy Idol Collection.
    Billy, that night, you were John Wayne!

  6. We saw BI in 2005 for the first time in my 45 years. We has by far AWESOME then after Devil’s Playground came out and don’t expect anything less. At the Beacon in NYC then I never saw a house rock like we did during Rebel Yell. We are back for more this year @ HOB in Atlantic City and again in NYC @ Hammerstein. And to say he looks & sound GREAT is just a complete understatement. HOT & SEXY IS ALL THAT CAN BE SAID.


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