Live Review: Billy Idol, Cheap Trick

25 March 2015 | 6:27 pm | Jennifer Sando

"A great day (and night) of magnificent, simple rock‘n’roll."

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The Choirboys were first up for Leconfield Winery’s A Day On The Green. Lead singer Mark Gable, sporting a Cheap Trick tee (as did the rest of the band) dedicated Boys Will Be Boys to those with penises; the live version was so amped with testosterone it was a wonder any women didn’t feel male parts growing by the end of it. Gable was disappointed with the singalong effort: “I’m your Prime Minister!” he yelled to the crowd for some reason.

The band stepped it up with a cover of AC/DC’s Live Wire, showing they were prepared to rock it hard if the crowd wanted it. Run To Paradise was what the folks wanted of course, although Gable palmed off most of the good bits to the audience to sing. Was he tired of the song? Could he not sing the high parts? It was as obscure as his prime minister remark.

The sun beat down on the crowd as if in time to the drums. The riffs were so glorious we didn’t care about UV protection. The punters may not have been willing to have their adrenal glands messed with so early in the game, but The Choirboys were a fitting choice to set the mood.

The Angels, fronted by the charismatic Dave Gleeson, began with Talk The Talk. As the temperature cooled down, the stage was heating up – Gleeson was on fire as he repeated “she keeps no secrets from you!” He rightfully belonged in the band’s new chapter, well preserving the legacy of original singer, the late Doc Neeson.

Be With You with its slower tempo didn’t cause the energy to waver. Soon Gleeson was growling “I ain’t the one to judge” and we believed him. Rick Brewster’s harmonious guitar work throughout the set was an impressive voice on its own; we were witnessing authentic Aussie rock.

Predictably, Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again saw folks going hard as they replied, “No Way, Get Fucked, Fuck Off.” Closing with Marseilles, The Angels proved they were solid, officially getting A Day On The Green’s sails up and away.

Cheap Trick didn’t mess around, getting straight into it with Hello There, as though they needed the audience to know they were present. Lead singer Robin Zander donned a silver sequined jacket and a white captain’s hat with a silver star. The band’s sound may have been heavier and dirtier, but they had to work harder to try and match the fantastic vibe The Angels left behind.

Zander sang the Rick Nielsen-penned If You Want My Love as if the track had been released only yesterday, not 32 years ago. Magical Mystery Tour showed Zander’s voice was in good form, although he made way for bassist Tom Petersson to do the lead vocals for I Know What I Want. During the sun’s golden hour, which turned everything yellow, I Want You To Want Me had people doing a kind of appreciative rock jig in their seats. This was followed by Dream Police, which included a pretend copper showing up on stage to arrest Zander.

Cheap Trick seemed disappointed with the reception, guitarist Nielsen asking if the audience could be turned up. A cover of the Fats Domino classic Ain’t That A Shame was snuck in towards the end but people were antsy for the headlining act.

Billy Idol was dressed in black, the collar and cuffs of his coat lined with silver studs. He greeted us with Postcards From The Past, and then hit us with Cradle Of Love. As he sang “I ain’t nobody’s fool,” he looked every bit the superstar he was, his lip turning up like Elvis Presley’s used to.

It was the first time Idol and lead guitarist Steve Stevens had played in Adelaide. “I love having my cherry popped,” Stevens said, making Idol roar with laughter. The band then kicked into Dancing With Myself, which included Stevens playing the guitar solo behind his head. Stevens was indeed brilliant, although there were possibly too many extended guitar solos. Was it wrong to want more of Idol?

Red lighting flooded the stage for the rock-funk number Flesh For Fantasy. The lights changed again for Save Me Now, illuminating Idol’s sweat-lined chest. “I need you to hear me now,” he sang, although it was hard to hear him when his chest was doing the talking. The Doors’ L.A. Woman was also on the setlist the band giving us some love by substituting L.A with Adelaide. Billy’s shirt came off entirely for Rebel Yell, and the audience didn’t hold back either, tearing up their picnic spots with serious dance moves to reinvigorate their rock‘n’roll senses.

“Adelaide! Thank you for making my life so fucking great!” Billy Idol proclaimed. “Now Steve, show ‘em what a hit song sounds like,” and he treated us to his most famous hit, White Wedding. When Idol belted out “S-t-a-r-t  a-g-a-i-n!” it was hard, loud and long, and must’ve shaken McLaren Vale to the core.

By the time we could lap up the long-awaited and final track, Mony Mony, poor Billy seemed to have run out of steam (maybe that was the reason for the extra guitar solos). We were more than happy to carry him along, however, as long as the drummer kept up his beat. The female backup singers and their “I love you Mony mo-mo-mony sure I do” part were notably absent, but it was forgiven.

At 59, Idol had aged well – there wasn’t a shred of corniness in sight, no inkling that he was living in the past, just a drive to show us that’s he’s still very much the relevant rocker today.

It was going to be a shit-fight to get out of the venue – cars would be banked up on the narrow gravel road that led back to Adelaide – but Idol chanting that he felt alright made it all worthwhile. Given the chance, the crowd would no doubt chant for Leconfield Winery too for delivering Billy Idol to us, and for putting on a great day (and night) of magnificent, simple rock‘n’roll.