Billy Idol / CBGB Music & Film Festival / New York, NY / October 9, 2014

billy idol745That bastion of punk CBGBs, once expected to be a bastion of Americana (Country Blue Grass Blues), came almost full circle when punk idol Billy Idol sang an acoustic set with guitarist Steve Stevens.

Idol, who is promoting his new biography, Dancing with Myself, stopped by the three-year-old CBGB Festival for a keynote interview and performance. Smart, irreverent and cutting-edge, Idol answered questions about his career and life, and stood up to perform   a few of his hits. “White Wedding,” the leadoff tune, sounded surreal backed by an acoustic guitar, but Idol pulled off that anthem, “Dancing With Myself,” and “Rebel Yell,” among others, with the electricity and fuck-you attitude usually reserved for Fenders cranked to at least 10. The select audience, clearly well-versed in the punk and glam-rock era, crowded out the couple hundred folding chairs and boogied (almost) like it was 1984 (that’s 30 years ago, for the arithmetically-challenged).

One unexpected treat was the well-curated CBGB photo exhibit, with works by Ebet Roberts, Bob Gruen and Chris Stein, among others. The Ramones, Blondie (and especially the beautiful Debbie Harry) and Patti Smith were well-represented in stunning prints which vividly portrayed an exceptionally visual era in rock. Let’s face it, no Americana artist’s closet will never pack the same wallop as, say, the New York Dolls’.

Billy Idol goes on North American tour in January, 2015, and if his performance last night is any indication, fans will get their money’s worth and more. He may be singing some old tunes, but best guess: Billy Idol will never be old.

– Suzanne Cadgène

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