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July 27, 2017

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Billy Idol turns Punk Elvis in debut at House of Blues


Tom Donoghue /

Billy Idol headlines at House of Blues on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Mandalay Bay.

Billy Idol at HOB

Billy Idol headlines at House of Blues on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Mandalay Bay. Launch slideshow »

Billy Idol playing Las Vegas was destiny. Take it from the man himself, as he stated lyrically many years ago:

“When you hear the music, you make a dip into someone else’s pocket, then make a slip. Steal a car and go to Las Vegas, oh, the gigolo pool.”

That’s the spoken rant in “Eyes Without a Face.” When Idol resurrects that line at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay, the crowd shouts along. He goes on to talk of hanging out by the state line (Primm!), turning holy water into wine (maybe at Buffalo Bill’s).

But regardless of the interpretive quality of those words, Idol is a fine fit in fine form at House of Blues, where on Saturday night he notched the third of his 26 dates at the ornately appointed music box.

In this foray into Las Vegas, Idol effectively comes off as a Punk Elvis. The spiked, blond frock and black-leather ensemble owes to his proud history as a punk rocker dating to his days with Generation X. And that curled-lip sneer he gives really reminds of the King.

Idol is certainly the lord of the manner in these shows but does have ample assistance from guitar great Steve Stevens, who shakes free for several solos and takes center stage nearly as much as the man whose name is on the club’s marquee.

There are few musical surprises in Idol’s show, which is a good thing, as he stays in the wheelhouse of his durably rocking hits. “White Wedding,” “Flesh For Fantasy,” “Blue Highway,” “Sweet Sixteen” and “Rebel Yell” are all played in full force.

Idol had said previously that he never tires of these songs, and watching him goose the crowd through the “More! More! More!” chant in “Rebel Yell” proves that point.

Idol also delights in a pair of his more famous covers, the Tommy James’ hit “Mony Mony” and The Doors’ “L.A. Woman.” The roar in the middle of “Mony Mony,” that plea to get laid, seems to have started in thin air some 30 years ago but is never louder than when Idol shouts it from the stage at House of Blues.

In yet another remarkable example of a rock star ignoring the calendar (or, in this case, flipping it off), Idol is 60. His fans from Generation X, the band and the cultural demographic, also seem to be biking through the years with the throttle wide open.

One fan visiting from Huntington Beach, Calif., who stood next to me before Idol lumbered to the stage said he’d seen the rocker something like 127 times through the years.

“I dyed my hair blond because of him,” he said, referring to a hair tint now 35 years old. Then he began cutting through the folks in front of us toward the edge of the stage.

The last I saw of him was the back of his head, balding but still blond with spikes rising toward the sky. The look of an Idol, for sure.

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