Eighties rocker Billy Idol stepped on the main stage at the Traverse City Cherry Festival Sunday evening for what was mostly a great concert. The Cherry Festival, like any typical summer state fair, attracts it's share of oldies bands, but Billy Idol kicked things off with a 100db rendition of "Shock to the System" followed by a newer song "Can't Break Me Down" from the vastly underrated "Kings and Queens of the Underground." They covered all the usual hits: "Eyes Without a Face," "Daytime Drama," as well as an old Gen-X song "King Rocker." Despite years of decadance on the road, at 60, Idol still looks the part of the buffed-out punk rocker running around on stage with an excess of energy.
There were some excellent over-the-top guitar solos from super shredder Steve Stevens that went from Flamenco to Yes' "Roundabout" along with some tasty Led Zeppelin licks from "Over the Hills and Far Away" and "Stairway to Heaven."
The concert took a bit of a wrong turn when they embarked on Idol's biggest hit "Rebel Yell." Idol was singing very off-key and eventually stopped the song mid-verse and started over again. The second version still wasn't perfect and Idol left a lot of the singing to the crowd.
This is a song they've played in every single gig for the last two years, so I can't help but wonder what was going wrong with the sound on stage to cause such a screw up. At the end, the band dashed off stage for a few minutes, presumably figuring out how to get things back on track.
Stevens and Idol came back for a slightly shaky acoustic version of "White Wedding" before the band came on for the full-on rock version. This was followed by a drum solo and a lengthy version of the classic "Mony, Mony."
Coming in at about 90 minutes, it seemed to me they cut the show a bit short, with only one song from the new album. Maybe that was because of the shaky vocals. Or maybe they just wanted to get off stage and get some elephant ears from the food stands.
Here's a couple of videos from the show including some Steve Stevens guitar pyrotechnics...
I'll try to post some more videos from the show later on.
Opening act Civil Twilight from South Africa did an admirable job trying to entertain a crowd of aging boomers doing their best not to go blind from staring into the setting sun. The band played as a trio, with brothers McKellar on bass and guitar and fellow countryman Richard Wouters on drums.
The band delivered a mix of song ranging in style from U2 to Peter Gabriel with a bit of Paul Simon "Graceland" polyrhythmic vibe. Highlights of their set included a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and their final song, a lively upbeat number called "When Am I Going to See You Again?" They are definitely be worth catching on their own US tour later this summer.