Billy Idol concert worthy despite singer's leg injury


There should be some grand reward awaiting Billy Idol for making it back onto a stage seven months after a motorcycle accident nearly claimed his right leg.

For many people, months of rehabilitation would have been in order, but Idol has chosen to rebuild his strength in performance.

As he strutted onto the stage at the Capital Centre last night, sporting freshly dyed white hair and a black cane, Idol appeared to have beaten the odds.

But the victory only lasted for a little while.

By the end of his 90-minute set, Idol, minus the cane, was limping like a lame horse pulling up in the backstretch, often losing his balance and fighting not to grit his teeth through the pain. His familiar sneers last night seemed to stem from the agony.

It was disheartening to see such an energetic performer wanting to dance with his fans, often leaping gently into the air, only to come down soft and uneasy.

It's a shame, too, because for the first time in three tours, Idol's music wasn't brutally distorted and you could actually understand what he was singing.

Perhaps that was a reflection on his new guitarist, Mark Younger-Smith, who is not nearly as flashy as Steve Stevens, Idol's previous sidekick. Younger-Smith did a competent job of keeping the licks clean of feedback and keeping Idol in sync with the music.

The pair worked together on guitar during "White Wedding" and "The Untouchables," a song from Idol's days in generation X, both done last night before Idol seemed to be feeling the discomfort from his leg.

Late in the show, Idol took time to thank the crowd for its support when he was hospitalized and even pulled up his trousers to show the crowd the nasty scar from his injury -- about the size of a baseball midway up his inner calf. It's no wonder the injury is adversely affecting his performance.

The only knock on Idol, except for the obviously rushed comeback, would be his questionable taste in choosing a set.

Not only was the stage flanked by photos of gigantic nudes and a pair of giant inflatable dolls in a suggestive position behind the stage, but there was an even larger naked doll laid on her back across the stage during Idol's cover of the Door's "L.A. Woman."

The Stones started it tastefully last year with a pair of sexy inflatable dancers, Madonna followed with her sex-kitten exploits and crotch-grabbing and now Idol has taken it a step further.

The opening act, Faith No More, delivered a wonderful 50-minute set, featuring seven songs from their album "The Real Thing."

But perhaps the most noteworthy songs the band performed won't be found on any album.

In a matter of minutes, dynamic Mike Patton sang the theme from Nestle's Alpine White commercial, one verse from the New Kids On The Block's "(You've Got) The Right Stuff" sandwiched during a frantic reading of "We Care A Lot," the band's huge hit "Epic" (complete with a human fish flop at the close as seen in the video) and a tender version of the Commodores' "Easy" for an encore.

For Idol, topping that was somewhat difficult, but he certainly didn't embarrass himself in his attempt.

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