[lastfm]Billy Idol [/lastfm]guitarist Steve Stevens paid tribute to [lastfm]Led Zeppelin[/lastfm] Thursday night, fusing two of [lastfm]Jimmy Page[/lastfm]‘s guitar pieces into songs by Idol and [lastfm]Generation X[/lastfm].
Performing at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif., Stevens sneaked a few riffs from Zeppelin’s ‘Heartbreaker’ into Idol’s cover of [lastfm]the Doors[/lastfm]‘ ‘L.A. Woman’ (Yes, that’s a cover within a cover). Later, he performed the intro to ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ in a Flamenco-drenched guitar solo that kicked off a Gen X medley.
Stevens, sporting his glam rock hairdo from the ’80s and black leather pants, recorded with Idol during the British punk rocker’s heyday but branched off in the late ’80s to record solo and as a session musician (His work with [lastfm]Michael Jackson[/lastfm] on ‘Dirty Diana’ and ‘Bad’ was the most memorable). In the late ’90s, he reunited with Idol and, as shown in the California concert, Stevens is a vital part of Idol’s live act.
“Steve Stevens, I want to thank you for making my life so f—ing great,” Idol said before Stevens launched into an acoustic intro for ‘White Wedding.’ Stevens also paid tribute to[lastfm]the Guess Who[/lastfm], playing a portion of [lastfm]Randy Bachman[/lastfm]‘s ‘American Woman’ solo during the deep cut ‘Blue Highway.’
“You’ve still got it, man,” Idol said afterward. “F—ing hell, that was burnin!”
While Stevens proved he still had guitar chops, Idol showed he could still belt out his snarling, rowdy vocals — and that he still has ripped abs even at age 54. Wearing bondage trousers from the punk era, Idol mostly kept his shirt on — until finally baring his torso for ‘Rebel Yell.’ Guitarist Billy Morrison wore a gay cowboy T-shirt popularized by [lastfm]Sex Pistols[/lastfm] manager [lastfm]Malcolm McLaren[/lastfm] while drummer Jeremy Colson sported a Mohawk that recalled UFC fighter Chuck Liddell.
The band surprised many in the audience by starting out with ‘Ready Steady Go,’ a song by Idol’s former band, [lastfm]Generation X[/lastfm], but they also covered a large portion of Idol’s solo hits, including ‘Eyes Without a Face,’ ‘Flesh for Fantasy’ and ‘Sweet 16.’ The songs were interspersed with guitar solos, Stevens playing with distortion and even doing the windmill, an ode to [lastfm]the Who[/lastfm]‘s [lastfm]Pete Townshend[/lastfm].
Meanwhile, Idol partook in his trademark fist pumps and seemed to make light of his own rock and roll caricature, introducing himself as “Billy F—ing Idol.” Though his career peaked in the ’80s, the accessible punker doesn’t seem overly mournful about the loss of his chart presence. After singing a new song, ‘Kings and Queens of the Underground’ — an autobiographical tune about drugs and rock — Idol was reflective, but not for long.
“Those were great years,” he said. “But we’re gonna have some better years. We’re gonna rock!”
And with that, the crowd rushed the stage for the start of ‘L.A. Woman.’