It was Aug. 7, 2015, and Billy Idol was the debut show in the freshly remodeled Grand Theatre. Having just completed a $10 million makeover, the theater was finally approved for occupancy by the Reno Fire Department that morning.
Fast forward to this past Saturday night (April 1) and Billy Idol brought his same band of talented musicians back for another sold out show.
Opening the show was Reno local, Black Sunshine. With plenty of local fans in the audience they received a very warm and enthusiastic welcome. They played a great set, ending with their hit, “Once In My Life”, written by Matt Reardon. Keep your eyes open for upcoming Black Sunshine gigs.
Next up was a powerful new punk band (new to me anyway), Kelsy Karter and The Heroines. Lead singer and songwriter Kelsey Karter has a magnificent and powerful punk voice. Couple that with a lovely, dark, sort of Wednesday Adams look, and you have a great formula for a show. She has a very theatrical and comfortable stage presence and is a natural up there. They are well worth looking into.
Billy and the band came out with all cylinders firing, not wasting any time getting the energy level up in the theater, with Billy’s hit from his Generation X days, “Dancing With Myself.” In the midst of the third verse he shouts, “Reno, Nevada, come on!” That worked. From where I was it looked like just about everybody was on their feet.
Having been in the entertainment business since 1976, Billy knows how to put together a set list, moving on to two other monster hits of his: “Cradle of Love” and “Flesh for Fantasy.” By then, he was in full control.
The audience spanned many decades, from preteen to older adults. I had been taking photos from the front during the first song when I turned to go up the steps for a different perspective. I stepped aside to let a much older woman with an oxygen tube in her nose being helped along by a younger woman come down. I could see in her eyes that she was very much into the Billy Idol show. That was very refreshing to see.
After a stellar, seven-minute rendition of “Eyes Without A Face,” the legendary Steve Stevens had the stage to himself, starting off with a flamenco style guitar solo that drifted into Led Zeppelin’s “Over The Hills and Far Away” and “Stairway to Heaven.” During this part Steve was hamming it up, egging on the audience for more applause, and some cash, when somebody walked past the stage and tossed a dollar bill up there for him. He picked it up, rolled it up, and pretended to do a snort off of his hand with it. Very funny.
Billy had been a big user of drugs and alcohol in the first part of his career, but in 2014 he shared that he has not done any hard drugs since 2003. At 67 years old he has plenty of pep in his step, and still has what it takes to put on a great rock and roll show. Billy’s amazing band is made up of Steve Stevens on lead guitar and vocals, Stephen McGrath on bass guitar and vocals, Billy Morrison on rhythm guitar and backup vocals, Erik Eldenius on drums, and Paul Trudeau on keyboards and guitar.
They wrapped up their set with the 1983 smash hit, “Rebel Yell,” written by Billy and Steve Stevens. It was a thunderous finale. After a very brief respite they returned and encored with “Hot In The City” and “White Wedding.” After the final songBilly took time to give very heartfelt introductions to the entire band before thanking the crowd for their attendance.
It was, indeed, a hot time in the city of Reno.
- Dancing With Myself
- Cradle of Love
- Flesh For Fantasy
- Bitter Taste
- Eyes Without a Face
- Steve Stevens Guitar Solo, including Over The Hills and Far Away and Stairway to Heaven
- Mony Mony
- Running With The Ghost
- One Hundred Punks
- Blue Highway
- Rebel Yell
- Hot In The City
- White Wedding