Monday, August 25, 2003

Campy Idol pokes fun at himself

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

He sneered, he swore, he sang the hits.

Billy Idol knows his fans as well as he knows himself. The 1970s punk-turned-1980s pop-rock video star put on a crowd-pleasing performance at Kings Island's TimberWolf Amphitheater Sunday night, and he failed to take himself seriously for even one minute of the two-hour show.

We've known for a long time Idol danced with himself. In 1998 we learned he could also laugh at himself, thanks to a cameo role playing himself in Adam Sandler's The Wedding Singer, in which Idol was a link on a chain of references to '80s throwaway culture.

From the start of his concert, Idol was poking fun not only at himself but his music as well.

He changed the lyrics of the opening number, "Cradle of Love," rhyming "It's easy" with "This song is so cheesy."

By the night's last song, his version of the Doors' "L.A. Woman," he was coming up with couplets unprintable in a family newspaper.

In between, Idol and his band, featuring his long-time guitarist Steve Stevens, played nearly all of the other hits: "Rebel Yell," "Mony Mony," "Hot in the City," "To Be a Lover," "Flesh for Fantasy," "Eyes without a Face," "White Wedding" and "Dancing with Myself."

The latter song dates back to the repertoire of Idol's '70s punk band Generation X, but it's identified with his '80s solo work. Idol referenced Generation X once during the show, and the band did a version of the band's "Ready Steady Go" that was well received by pockets of the crowd. A TimberWolf representative reported attendance at about 3,500.

The show had its share of decent musical moments, such as the rendition of the rockabilly-styled "To Be a Lover." Idol sang a couple verses of "Twenty Flight Rock" a cappella as an introduction, and the band followed with the best hillbilly-cat noises it could make: Stevens riffed on an acoustic guitar, drummer Brian Tichy stood and worked a snare drum, and keyboardist Derek Sherinian's sharp piano melodies were prominently displayed.

The sloppiest musician on stage was Idol, who sang both ahead of and behind the beat any number of times through the night. He messed up the chorus to "Rebel Yell," so he simply stopped the song and had the band start from the top.



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