By John Katic
Robert Plant once said “it’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely time” but even that phrase doesn’t not quantify the 7,976 days between Billy Idol appearances in Pittsburgh (June 29, 2001). Monday night the Sultan of Sneer was back and blistered through a set of the old and the new at the beautiful UPMC Events Center on the campus of Robert Morris University.
The show started promptly at 8:30 after Kesley Karter warmed up the audience with her band. Billy & Co didn’t waste any time hitting the audience with “Dancing With Myself”. The hall full of mostly Gen Xers ate the Generation X song up. Billy head to do toe in black with his signature, platinum spikes looking to be in amazing shape and voice any not at all looking the part of a 67 year-old grandfather. The band launched right into “Cradle of Love” from Charmed Life and “Flesh For Fantasy” from Rebel Yell. Fun to watch throughout was Billy’s interaction with his long-time band-mates Steve Stevens and Billy Morrison.
The band then did “Cage” from his latest EP which fit in very nicely as it’s got one of those melodies that makes it sound familiar by the second chorus. Then the band did “Speed” from the Speed movie soundtrack and “Bitter Taste” from 2021 Roadside EP. At this point of the show Billy acknowledged that EP’s take as much work to promote as full length albums and dropped news of a 9-song album on the way. Steve Steven’s led a masterful version of “Eyes Without A Face” which took the song to another level live. Steve then educated the University on his level of musicianship with an acoustic solo that borrowed from Led Zeppelin and Edward Van Halen in spots but was Mr Steven’s through and through.
Then it was time for the party to really start with “Mony Mony” which had many dancing in the aisles. You can’t outdo the energy of that song so Billy went into a story of a friend of his son named Russ who lost a battle with addiction recently. He dedicated “Running from the Ghost” to Russ. Then the band tore up the Generation X song “One Hundred Punks” and “Blue Highway”. It was time for a signature moment and what more fitting than “Rebel Yell”. The crowd shouting “more! more! more!” just worked so perfect. The band capped off the set with encore of “Hot in the City” (ironic for a very cold, May night) and of course “White Wedding”.
Let’s how the completely sold-out UPMC Event Center will convince future Idol dates in the ‘burgh.