Rockdom is lorded over by giants of course, your Springsteens and Dylans, your Stones and Beatles. We love 'em all, as well we should. But sometimes, when the mood is right, when the radio is being generous, all we really crave is a lil' Billy Idol in our lives. Sometimes, we don't want to think; we just want to dance with ourselves.
The Brit-born William Michael Albert Broad may never make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or any wonky best-of lists. (Unless the list is greatest lip snarls, in which case the dude's No. 1 with a sneer.)
But as the 57-year-old pop punker proved at a sold-out Ruth Eckerd Hall on Tuesday, his goofy glam-rock anthems are just the salve when all you want to do is pump your fist and have a bit of dumb fun.
Two hours is a tad long for an Idol set, even a fun nostalgic one. Truth be told, his songbook is good for about 80 awesome minutes.
But despite the dull parts, the famously bleached-blond growler had a couple of things working for him.
First of all, Idol's voice still sounds fantastic and he looks even better. No, really, the guy is RIPPED.
He spent only two songs, Generation X openers Ready Steady Go and Dancing With Myself, fully dressed (all black leather and denim, natch).
The guy couldn't wait to show off his sweat-slick abs, and who could blame him? He remains a grinning, bad-boy sex symbol, and the ladies in the graying, game crowd of 2,180 couldn't get enough.
Idol didn't miss a horny rock-star cliche, either: He signed some front-row bosoms. He mashed a woman's face in his, ahem, bathing-suit area as her date looked on with an approving grin. (All in good fun, mate!)
Idol toweled off — like, all over — then tossed the moist cloth into the pleading throngs. You'd have thought it was '83 all over again!
The other major plus of the gig was Steve Stevens, Idol's longtime, exceptionally coiffed lead guitarist.
There was a good bit of filler, a time for most people to hit the lobby for another cold one. But Stevens is a shredding god to guitar freaks, and he remains both nimble and explosive, which helped sell the lesser cuts.
Not that the wait was ever that long for the hits, which Idol and his five-piece band delivered with care and oomph: Flesh for Fantasy, the sublime Cradle of Love, Eyes Without a Face.
Stevens unloaded his own share of cliches: playing with his teeth, playing behind his back, making an acoustic guitar sound like 10 acoustic guitars on a retooled White Wedding.
For a thunderous Rebel Yell, Idol presented Stevens with a laser gun, which the guitarist them used to unload that famously explosive solo. (Awesome!)
And then everyone — Billy, the band, the crowd — finished up with an utterly profane Mony Mony (yes, we all did the chant).
Billy Idol hadn't been here in almost a decade. But that's the thing about fringe favorites, stars who go in and out of our lives like old friends.
Just when you need them, they show up to give you more, more, more.
Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.