BILLY IDOL: STATE LINE – LIVE AT THE HOOVER DAM
DECEMBER 11, 2023
The setting of a concert can make a huge difference in how the music is experienced and appreciated. When outdoors, this experience is enhanced. Billy Idol took this to a new level when he performed at the Hoover Dam, a spectacular feat of engineering and a symbol of human achievement. Captured in the docu-concert Billy Idol: State Line, which aired on November 25, he demonstrated his daring and adventurous spirit as he rocked the dam with his iconic songs.
Billy Idol: State Line began with a brief background outlining the significant industrial achievement, part of several projects to pull the US out of the Great Depression. The Hoover Dam’s construction commenced in 1930 and concluded in 1937. The helipad adjacent to the massive engineering behemoth became Idol’s stage to 250 diehard fans, with tickets starting at $1200 for the pleasure, but without the joy of a personal meet and greet with their idol—a tough price to pay.
The cool thing about this docu-concert is how it opened with a mini glimpse into the historical significance of the Dam itself; equally incredible was the passion that could be felt regarding Idol’s dedication to water conservation, a very relevant topic for today’s up and coming punk rockers. For those not so keen, there is a brief back story to Idol’s history and meagre beginnings, alongside the Sex Pistols, whom he credits with his success in the industry – nice touch.
Moving into the live performance – playing in front of the Hoover Dam would have been phenomenal live. For the first moments of the docu-concert, the massiveness was not lost on me; however, as quickly as I was impressed, I lost interest, viewing through the camera’s lens. Instead, I focused on the performance itself. What is remarkable about the performance is the unique contributions from Alison Mosshart (The Kills, The Dead Weather), Steve Jones (Sex Pistols, Generation Sex) and Tony Kanal (No Doubt); all doing a stellar job, but the standout performer was Steve Stevens, guitarist who has a 40-year relationship with Idol, his engagement was on point, and for a crowd that has paid such a grotesque amount of money I feel he did his bit.
Unfortunately for me, the engagement from Idol himself didn’t quite hit the mark; he favoured interacting with his fellow musicians. He regularly changed outfits but kept true to punk fashion – even flashing some skin early on; I imagine this would have invigorated the crowd, and I must say he is doing well for being 68 years young. Appearing a little gassed as the performance progressed, you can’t be too disappointed as he pushes through with a few lip curls and fist pumps true to the brand.
Idol played many favourites including “Rebel Yell” and “Bitter Taste”, and a personal one — “Eyes Without a Face”. I think diehard fans would thoroughly enjoy Billy Idol: State Line. For those non-fans, the significance of the surroundings must be addressed. Lessons learned from this piece are environmental sustainability and the importance of water conservation, and for that, I rate Idol’s effort as very punk rock.