Billy Idol was playing at the McMennamin’s Edgefield Amphitheater (more like grassy knoll) last night, and I was lucky enough to witness the spectacle with my friend Charlie.
This is my friend Charlie. I was doing my best Billy Idol lip and I have no idea what Charlie was going for with that face? WTF?
Charlie picked me up in Old Town where I work, and if I had been standing on that corner much longer someone would have tried to sell me drugs or ask me “How much?” Okay, Charlie actually arrived before I did, so that didn’t really happen, but it could have because that’s what Old Town Portland is like.
We drove out to Edgefield in beautiful Troutdale, Oregon in record time. Troutdale is known for three things:
1. It has outlet malls.
2. It’s the exit to take if you’re going to Mt. Hood (snowboarding!)
3. Jubitz Truck Stop, “Two bits at Jubitz will get you…” Oh never mind.
We turned into the venue and saw two signs: One for a wedding and one for a concert. I looked at Charlie and said, “A wedding on a Monday night? Is it the only night they could get?” Charlie jokingly replied, “Maybe Billy Idol is the wedding band!” Wouldn’t that be amazing. Turns out we weren’t that far off.
We parked in a big grassy field like the other hundreds of concert goers, and noticed something odd. I looked over at Charlie and said, “Oh my gosh. We’re here with a bunch of old farts. Look at these people.” Yeah well, those old farts are my age! People were carrying vinyl Idol in to get autographs!
Issue 1: Grass everywhere. I have grass allergies. I had taken a Zyrtec, but I was still sneezing.
Issue 2: We get up to the entrance and the guy checking bags looks at Charlie and says, “Is there food in that bag sir?” Hmmm, let me see. It’s an Elephant’s Deli bag. Brilliant detective! Yes, there’s food in it. “No food allowed in the venue sir, because we sell overpriced crap like hot dogs inside.” He didn’t really say that last part about the hot dogs but it was true. We took our food to a grassy hill just up the hill and had our dinner picnic outside the venue in peace. Much better idea anyway.
We finally went inside (a relative term since the concert was outdoors) and got in the shortest line at one of the bars, which was still 20 people deep. But those bartenders had their art down to a science. They were mixing drinks fast and we had our Herradura Silver margaritas in no time.
Now off to find a spot that hadn’t already been staked out by a group of drunken mullet-heads with vinyl albums in their hands. We found a spot on the slope behind a guy with his two daughters (probably eight or nine years old). I figured they’d be pretty fun to stand by, and I wanted to watch the dad explain the inevitable (Billy Idol cussing, bras onstage, topless partiers, etc.).
The view from our spot
The concert was supposed to start at 6:30, but Billy Idol didn’t actually come onstage until almost 7:30. He did not bound onstage. He did not run onstage. The guy practically needed a walker! Where’s the Billy Idol I remembered? Gasp. No more bleached blonde hair, but he does still have the trademark do. He looked, dare I say, tired
He stood in a 10-foot square area in the middle of the stage for the most part, and didn’t move much at all. He did finally find some energy during the second half of the show. I saw Billy Idol on a double bill with the B52’s in 1983, in the gym at University of New Hampshire on Halloween! That is the Billy Idol I remember.
Billy left the stage three times during the performance, sometimes for five minutes, sometimes for 10. Charlie and I came up with a list of things he could have been doing offstage:
- Taking a nap
- Changing his Depends
- Shooting up heroin
- Having a quickie with one of the many groupies
I can make these jokes because I am almost as old as Billy Idol! Turns out he was just changing his clothes each time (at least that’s what he wanted us to believe).
And now for the highlights
Acoustic White Wedding: Billy Idol and Steve Stevens did an semi-acoustic version of White Wedding, and it was awesome, Then they broke into the commercial version, and we finally started seeing some energy.
Steve Stevens: Steve Stevens has been with Billy for 28 years. He did a solo that had me mesmerized. That guy is by far one of the most talented guitarists I’ve ever seen. Purists might disagree, but I could watch that guy play for hours.
Billy Idol has Abs: Believe it or not the guy is still in great physical shape (on the outside anyway). He has great abs and he’s 52!
The Wedding Party: Yes, there really was a wedding going on that night, and the entire wedding party came through the concert crowd with their photographer at one point. However, they completely missed “White Wedding,” which Billy played very early in the set.
The Topless Women: There were two women MY AGE who were up on someone’s shoulders taking their shirts off and flashing the band. This was a bad idea on a number of fronts. First, not attractive. Second, YouTube. Hello? I am sure those women are up on YouTube right now, and their teenage son’s friends are checking them out along with the rest of the world. The really sad thing is that Billy Idol didn’t even notice! Ouch. Notice the young kid just to the right of the topless woman. I bet Daddy had some splainin’ to do in the car ride on the way home.
The Sign: A guy in the front handed Billy Idol a sign that said, “PLEASE FUCK MY WIFE.” Excuse me? Not after the road rash that thing has seen.
The Signers: There were two sign language interpreters off to the side of the stage. They were the two most unlikely women to be signing a Billy Idol concert. I think they must have been from a local church. Having said that, they were more into the songs, and were more animated than Billy Idol was most of the time!
Hand Sanitizer: Billy Idol went to the edge of the stage and shook hands with a lot of fans during the evening, but there was one particular instance where he shook someone’s hand, then Steve Stevens whispered something in his ear. They both had a good chuckle and then walked over to a speaker stack where there was a bottle of hand sanitizer! No kidding. He actually poured a bunch on his hands and then wiped with a towel. I was dying to see who he shook hands with before he felt the need to sanitize. Wow. Must have been a really scary looking fan.
The concert ended with an encore that included “Hot in the City” and “Money Money,” which was a great way to end. I’m pretty sure Billy went back to his trailer and took a little nap before he walked over to the bar in the hotel and partied the night away.
Blog Reader Sarah was way closer than I was and has better pictures. You can see them here: Billy Idol Pics