Concert review: Billy Idol revs Reno with a ‘Rebel Yell’

Billy Idol captivated Reno from the opening song, “Dancing With Myself.”
Tahoe Onstage photos by Shaun Astor

There are concerts that take the audience for a ride – where it takes a while for those onstage to warm up and connect with the room, or who perform new material to gauge the crowd’s reaction, or perform but without a spark of band chemistry. Billy Idol’s Saturday night set at the Grand Sierra Resort’s Grand Theatre was not one of those. Instead, Idol took the stage and for 90 minutes engaged in a powerful, straightforward performance that had the sold-out room on their feet and cheering along from beginning to end.

Billy Idol didn’t rely on fancy video screen visuals or a pantomimed choreography that other legacy performers sometimes do. He took the stage in his chains and black leather jacket and wasted no time launching into “Dancing With Myself.”.From that point on, everyone was up on their feet and cheering wildly between each song.

Idol was all strut and swagger, working his way across the stage while interacting with those in the front rows. He traded his trademark sneers and pumping fists for thoughtful stories between songs, including the effects of his past motorcycle accident or being close to others who didn’t survive the drug addictions they fought. All the while Idol played a setlist of songs ranging from his Generation X years (“100 Punks”) across his popular “Rebel Yell” record (“Eyes Without A Face,” “Flesh For Fantasy”) to his newest EPs, “The Roadside” and “The Cage,” released in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

Idol’s longtime guitarist and writing partner, Steve Stevens, could arguably carry the show on his own. Despite playing with a torn meniscus in his knee, Stevens’ guitar playing was nonstop! Alternating between his signature sound pulsing through all of Idol’s most well-known songs to extended feature guitar solos on an otherwise empty stage that drove the crowd’s increasingly loud cheers before climaxing to a roaring room as Idol and the rest of the band returned to the stage to launch into the band’s biggest hits.

Ending the set with “Rebel Yell” and wrapping the night with an encore of “White Wedding,” Idol sincerely thanked the crowd, shaking hands with many in the front row before finally making his way offstage after nearly 90 minutes of a powerfully dynamic set of a classic catalog.

Opener Kelsy Karter And The Heroines – handpicked to join the tour by Stevens after he found Karter’s social media post of her cover of Heart’s version of the song “Alone” – featured a unique combination of elements that made their sound fit great with the show. With poetic spoken intros to songs and a Lita Ford-like flair of melodic hard rock, Karter herself garnered a standing round of cheers from many in the crowd following her concise opening set. Unfortunately, her band suffered from poor sound mixing and a distracting band photographer who walked across and occupied the stage throughout each of the band’s songs, however the spark of a unique rock voice was recognizable despite these drawbacks.

– Shaun Astor

ABOUT Shaun Astor

Shaun Astor
Shaun Astor cites pop music singers and social deviants as being among his strongest influences. His vices include vegan baking, riding a bicycle unreasonable distances and fixating on places and ideas that make up the subject of the sentence, "But that’s impossible…" He splits his time between Reno and a hammock perched from ghost town building foundations. Check out his work at www.raisethestakeseditions.com

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One Response

  1. Thank you so much for this review !!!!! It was a super great show and I have seen Billy many times over the decades. Your words were enthusiastic and well said. I want to go again to a different city !!! Sincerely, Mary

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