Review/photos by Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
Lewiston, NY - The summer concert season in Western New York officially kicked off on Tuesday, June 4th when multi-platinum superstar Billy Idol, with guest opener Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown, performed in front of a sold out and diverse music loving audience on a beautiful summer-like night. This was the first of many great shows scheduled at this year's "Tuesday in Park" concert series at Artpark in Lewiston, NY. Most importantly, this was Billy Idol’s first return back to the WNY area in eight years.
The 57-year-old Idol sneered and fist pumped through a 90-minute set. During the evening, Idol made several wardrobe changes. He has taken good care of himself over the years, and because of it, he still sings great and had an incredible amount of energy, and he used every ounce of it during this evening.
Idol and his band, which consists of long time guitarist Steve Stevens with Stephen McGrath (bass), Jeremy Colson (drums) and Billy Morrison (rhythm guitar), were simply amazing. One would wonder why another guitarist is necessary with Stevens in the band, but Morrison's rhythm playing gave Stevens more room to dazzle the audience with his unique six string skills.
The band kicked off the evening with, "Ready, Steady, Go," the punk rock classic from Idol's first band, Generation X. This was the perfect song to set the tone for the evening. Idol then proceeded with his top 40 hit, "Dancing with Myself" to the delight of the crowd.
During the fourth song of the evening, "Flesh for Fantasy,” Idol removed his jacket, revealing his six-pack abs to the delight of the swooning soccer moms in attendance. After that track, Idol put the jacket back on for a new, mid tempo track, entitled "Postcards from the Past." This was a cool new song, so new that Idol had to read lyrics off of a music stand that he had on stage.
Soon after, an admiring female fan in the front row was trying to get Idol’s attention, so he cleverly took the microphone and strategically placed it on his crotch and asked her to speak in the microphone, so he could hear her. Although Idol is quite older; he still has his smartass sense of humor and is quite the ladies man.
The only negative aspect of this performance was the song selection mid-way through the set; there were just too many consecutive slower songs. The crowd grew a little restless and the band seemed to lose momentum. But, then Steve Stevens took the center stage for an incredible guitar solo that featured some tasteful Flamenco style guitar, coupled with segments of the classic Led Zeppelin track, "Over the Hills and Far Away" and Louis Armstrong's, "What a Wonderful World."
After Stevens solo spot, Idol and band kicked it back into high gear, ending the evening with the high energy, crowd pleasing monster classics, "Rebel Yell," "White Wedding," and "Mony Mony."
On this evening, Billy Idol proved that he still is a rock n’ roll force to be reckoned with. It also seemed as if he genuinely enjoyed performing, almost as much as the fans enjoyed watching him.
Honey Grove, Texas guitar prodigy Tyler Bryant and his band the Shakedown, consisting of Caleb Crosby (Drums), Noah Denney (Bass) and Graham Whitford (guitar) opened the show with an impressive set that revolved around their recent release, “Wild Child.” Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown is one of the most exciting new bands out now. They have a very a bright future, and by this time next year, they will be headlining big stages all across the country.
Special thanks to Maria Hays for press credentials. And also to Dana Kaiser.