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Billy Idol + Alex Cameron - MGM Music Hall (Boston) - Sept 9th, 2023

11 September 2023

Old punks are still at it. The Damned continue to play vital shows (and release pretty good records still), the Rebellion Fest shows that loads of bands from the early days of punk rock are still burning that flame. While Billy Idol’s days of punk are long behind him, being an original member of Chelsea and then forming Generation X is still worth a few truckfuls of cred.

MTV helped launch a bunch of careers through a combination of the sound and the look of the performer and Idol rode that wave perfectly, a peroxided, lip-curled snarler who wrote really catchy songs. With his longtime sidekick/writing partner/guitarist Steve Stevens, Idol was clearly having a great time rolling through the songs that as he put it, made him a lucky man and very appreciative of his fans. The hits came fast right out of the gate, “Dancing With Myself” getting the crowd bopping early and “Flesh For Fantasy” featuring Idol with his back to us and peeling off his black leather jacket and vest to don a black shirt he didn’t bother buttoning up before turning back to address the crowd. Gotta say that for 67, Idol clearly has a pretty solid exercise routine.

Along with Stevens, Idol assembled a crack band with a local on drums who got a birthday cake after the encore, an animated bass player, a keyboardist, two other guitarist and two background singers. His songs aren’t that super ornate and to be honest had the 3rd guitarist’s amp stopped working I doubt anyone would have noticed, but the entire unit sounded crisp and clean.

One incongruity was the punk rock/“alternative” (whatever that means now, it did mean something in the ’80s) songs of Idol contrasted with Stevens’ bit in the spotlight. Stevens took over the stage to play a medley of some classic rock hits by Led Zeppelin and others, and later on in the set after the Gen X shout-along “One Hundred Punks” he played his biggest solo hit, the theme from Top Gun. A bit weird but somehow it all worked. The set ended with Idol teasing the crowd that they’d be pressed into backing vocals duty and of course everyone knew the “More More More” refrain from “Rebel Yell” without any prodding. The “Hot In The City” > “White Wedding” was a celebratory end to a really fun show. I hadn’t seen Idol in nearly 10 years and he still clearly enjoys playing his songs for an appreciative crowd, and singing them well.

Hailing from Australia, Alex Cameron took the stage with only a sampler and a sax player as support. “I bet you think we’re not very successful and so we don’t have a band but we like it this way,” Cameron quipped. Dancing about the stage in a leopard print tank top, he played a wry style of indie dance pop, punctuated with bursts of sax via Roy Molloy. Not the easiest gig to come in cold as a duo in front of a crowd who just wants to see Billy Idol but overall they fared okay.