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June 24, 2013

Idol doesn’t look, act his age

Punk-pop legend gives sold-out casino crowd what it wants

ELIZABETH —

A sold-out crowd at the Horseshoe Casino Showroom learned Saturday night that not much about the 2013 Billy Idol is different from the 1983 version.

Sure, there are more lines on the rocker’s face, but the guitar riff that signals the start of the second half of Idol’s hit “Eyes Without a Face” still rocks.

It’s a lasting sign that Idol isn’t in this alone — his success then and now is tied heavily to his longtime partner in crime, guitarist Steve Stevens, long underrated as a six-string legend.

You can tell the duo — and the other four members of Idol’s band — still love performing after all these years and are grateful fans provide them the opportunity to do so.

Idol, 57, and his mates repaid the favor to the crowd by marching through all Idol’s hits, with the exception of “Hot in the City,” on Saturday evening.

The highlights came from his earlier work, especially “Eyes Without a Face,” which is surely Idol’s most nuanced hit.

Stevens impressed on that, and most of the 15-song setlist, plus a guitar solo. His and Idol’s work on “L.A. Woman,” a song previously covered by Idol on 1990’s “Charmed Life” album, made even a Doors’ song vibrant.

Idol showed energy throughout the set, particularly on sing-alongs like “Mony Mony” and “Flesh For Fantasy.” He’s a true showman, having learned from his time in the MTV spotlight, as well as his early years fronting punk band Generation X.

Throughout the 90 minute-plus set, he pumped his fist, went through a couple of above-the-waist wardrobe changes, chatted up the audience and threw out souvenirs, all the while backed by tight his band’s tight musicianship.

Idol even went as far as to thank the fans in “Elizabeth,” not simply “Indiana” or even “Louisville.” It’s that sort of attention to showmanship that helps give Idol staying power in the star-today, gone-tomorrow “American Idol” landscape.

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