Local Current Blog

Billy Idol brings his Rebel Yell to the Turf Club

Photos by Nate Ryan/MPR

Well, that was surreal.

If there was one word uttered more than any others after Billy Idol’s six-song acoustic set with Steve Stevens at the Turf Club on Monday night, it was just that: Surreal. Surreal to see such a household name in such a tiny club. Surreal to watch Idol’s sinewy body prowl around the stage. And surreal to hear such recognizable songs like “White Wedding” and “Eyes Without a Face” performed so emphatically to such an adoring crowd.

Although cynics may have scratched their heads at the booking, there was something delightful about the sheer randomness of the event. Billed under the name of Mary Lucia’s Friday night guitar-jamming program “Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio,” the lineup spoke to the tastes of our queen of No Apologies: an opening set by Erik Appelwick’s dream pop-meets-yacht rock project Tropical Depression, followed by the rip-roaring ’70s rock aficionado Little Man and then the main event, Idol, who Lucia introduced as having “lived nine lives… and has probably shagged 10 people today.”

As the first notes of “White Wedding” rang out and Idol worked his way toward the chorus’s throaty wails, the sold-out crowd at the Turf (and a few fans without tickets who pressed their noses to the back windows) stood frozen and awestruck, as if making any sudden movements might make Idol disappear. Once it became clear that Idol was not, in fact, going to evaporate into a mist of hair gel and leather conditioner, the crowd started to loosen up and sing and sway along—which only seemed to amplify his giddiness about being on stage.

There was something so unadulterated and joyful about watching Idol perform. Dressed in a leather jacket and Shellac t-shirt, he started off pacing around the stage like a cat in heat, feeding off of Steve Stevens’ riffs and energy, then gestured animatedly toward the crowd, pointing out into the front rows to sing “I love you” to different people during “To Be a Lover” and providing his own percussion section in the form of an air maraca and a few punchy “chicka chicka pows!” during “Eyes Without a Face.”

Although his set felt far too short (Idol said had a plane to catch back to Vegas but he may have also been feeling ill; he just canceled his next two tour dates due to a chest infection), he was sure to end things on a high note. “Are you ready for two words? You in the back, are you ready for two words?” he bellowed, riling up the crowd. And with that he left us with a jubilant performance of “Rebel Yell” that left everyone craving more, more, more.

Billy Idol set list:

White Wedding
Kiss Me Deadly
Sweet Sixteen
Eyes Without a Face
To Be a Lover
Rebel Yell