The Palace Theatre, located in downtown St. Paul Minnesota welcomed an almost sold-out crowd in this century-old historic venue. Theatre patrons were greeted with security checking bags, IDs, vaccination cards, or negative tests for all attending. The security setup was impressive, but I felt a little overboard with the metal detectors, bag, and body searches. I felt like I was going through TSA to board a plane instead of watching a show.
The show started 30 minutes late. The crowd was patient and not particularly bothered by it. People were still piling into the venue and not surprisingly as there is no parking outside the venue. Unfortunately, Minnesota is known for its bipolar weather and snow decided to grace our presence tonight. I stood near the front of the stage waiting for the show to begin. I saw a few familiar faces of other photographers that I shot with recently. Surprisingly there was a plethora of us tonight. What is a group of photographers called anyway? A group of musicians is a band, boys come in blushes, and a group of girls is a bevy. I mean is there a name for us? Perhaps a click?
The lights dimmed with the all-familiar signal, it’s time for the show to begin. Rebel yells carried through the venue. All of a sudden you see a familiar figure grace the stage with the signature lip snarl and platinum blonde hair. This punk rock heartthrob took the stage with co-rock legend and guitarist Steve Stevens. Ok, I have to admit I was a little giddy at the moment. Billy Idol has always been at the top of artists I listened to most of my life. I have always wanted to catch him in concert, so to be able to do both, was great. This was an impressive and stylish acoustic set with just Idol and Stevens. Idol was dressed in black jeans with a silver chain adorning his pocket. He was rocking black combat boots, a black t-shirt that turned green in certain light and a textured short light grey linen peacoat, and multiple layers of silver necklaces. Stevens was dressed in a buttoned-up long sleeve black and sheer striped shirt, black boots, and a pair of black and yellow/gold plaid pants. His hair was teased in a perfect 80’s mighty hairdo! I think it should have its own Instagram page because it was truly impressive.
They began the show with “Dancing with Myself”. The set started off a little slower, more acoustic in the beginning, but it did not take long for Idol and Stevens to hit hard as time went on. Part of the songs did include some backing tracks to give the music more texture in the performance.
Idol entertained the crowd with stories about how they got started and at times his thick British accent was a little hard to understand. No one seemed to mind. He spoke about how some of his most popular songs were created. Whether getting inspiration from horror films, in seedy backrooms of clubs, sharing music venues with legendary artists like the rolling stones or on drug and sex-fueled benders. These life events became the cornerstone of creations for the songs we came to know. He shared a little about his 1990 motorcycle accident in which he described as horrific and almost costing him his life. He stated that he rarely speaks about it, however, he decided to work through his pain about the accident by writing “Bitter Taste”.
His vocals were spot on and more mature than the younger, wilder version of himself. There were still those signature moves he is known for including the fist pump, how he wrinkles his nose I was hoping to hear his acoustic version of “Cradle of Love” from his Charmed Life album, which is a personal favorite but for whatever reason, it was not included in the set. In the middle of the show, Stevens was able to showcase the amazing skills that have cemented him in guitar history. His acoustic performance blazed through various musical styles including, Spanish, classical, rock, and even included the famed “Stairway to Heaven”. He played feverishly and I was not surprised he did not set his Godin Multiac Grant Concert Electric Guitar ablaze.
Throughout the concert, Idol gave us a little history lesson on his life. He entered the punk scene in the 1970s as a guitarist with the punk band Chelsea and eventually left forming Generation X. Subsequently he left to begin a solo going from his given name of William Michael Albert Broad to Billy Idol, which came from his schoolteacher’s description of him as “idle”. After leaving the UK for New York City, he began his collaboration with longtime partner guitarist Steve Stevens who has been with him since the early 1980s. He debuted his album, Billy Idol, in 1982 with commercial success with hits “Dancing with Myself” which he began the show with, and “White Wedding” which was the encore song.
Toward the end of the concert, people rushed toward the stage to experience the last two songs as close to him as possible. At times he would sign items for fans at the stage and continue singing. People reached out to touch him or seemingly just to be near him. There was no lack of love for this 66-year-old grandfather, (yeah I said grandfather, can you imagine papa idol?!) Fans continue to idolize him and he shows no sign of slowing down. The female fans surely had no issue with the sexy AARP recipient. You can’t deny, women still want him, and men still want to be him.
1.) Dancing With Myself (Generation X cover)
2.) Catch My Fall
3.) Rita Hayworth
4.) Kiss Me Deadly (Generation X cover)
5.) Sweet Sixteen
6.) Eyes Without a Face
7.) Steve Steven’s Acoustic Guitar Solo
8.) Don’t Need a Gun
9.) Bitter Taste
10.) To Be a Lover (William Bell cover)
11.) Rebel Yell
12.) White Wedding
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As a Minneapolis-based professional freelance photographer and photojournalist, I feel I have a passion for sharing new perspectives of the world. Since picking up my first DSLR camera, I have been hooked ever since. Striving to capture the rawest forms of emotion through my photos, I am determined to make the viewer feel as if they were there too. Whether I am photographing landscapes, families, children, events, or concerts, I feel I have a way of capturing the true essence of the moment and finding the extraordinary in an ordinary place.
I am always looking for a creative outlet through my art, I find myself drawn to concerts as a rock music lover. You will find me right up front in the pit with everyone else. I have documented tours with some of the biggest artists in rock history including George Lynch, Judas Priest, Billy Idol, Slaughter, Vince Neil, Rick Springfield, and many more. I continue to push boundaries with my work and strive to capture some of the most iconic moments that represent the vibe of the artists and crowd as well as the atmosphere of the overall event. I am a contributor for All Music Magazine and a published photographer including features in Guitar Magazine and a feature cover photo on George Lynch’s 2021 solo album. Some of my clients include Morley Pedals, Rat Pak Records, Two Notes Audio, and many more.
“I capture emotions, not images.”