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‘Billy Idol: State Line – Live At Hoover Dam’ review: Dirs. Vincent Adam Paul & George Scott

by Kat Hughes

Back in April, eighties punk rock icon, Billy Idol, hosted an exclusive intimate concert for a lucky 250 fans at the historic Hoover Dam. For those unable to get tickets, the show was recorded and will arrive in UK cinemas for one night only on 14th November 2023, with a home entertainment release to follow soon after. In recent years there has been a trend in artists releasing concert films into cinemas, and Billy Idol: State Line is another live-show that deserves to be seen on the big screen as it allows those that were not present a chance to feel as though they were.

Before Billy Idol: State Line gets down to the business of the concert, time is taken to set the scene. Interviews with Billy Idol chronicle how the idea for the performance came together, Idol revealing himself to be a history enthusiast. His love of history shines almost as brightly as his passion for music as he recounts a variety of interesting facts about the Hoover Dam, its construction and legacy. It is plain to see in the footage that Idol is very excited to be allowed privileged up-close access into such an historic structure. In fact, his enthusiasm is so great  that for a moment it seems as though Billy Idol: State Line might be a sneaky factual documentary about the Dam. However, history eventually paves way to some rehearsal footage and then the real fun begins.

The rehearsal scenes present a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of Billy Idol and his guitarist, Steve Stevens. The pair have worked together for over forty years (except for a brief period of separation) and their respect for one another as musicians is clear. As the two perform acoustically in front of the Dam there is no denying the talent of either, and this sequence alone should shut down any that view Idol as a pretender.  

As the actual performance begins, images of those lucky few that were in attendance are shown, and their devotion to their music hero is evident. Some of these fans have followed Billy from his days in Generation X and their dedication to the artist is commendable. For any Idol fans watching who weren’t lucky enough to go, jealousy creeps in, but thankfully directors Vincent Adam Paul and George Scott, do a great job at making the audience feel as though they were also there. The pair shoot up close and personal and give the screen viewer a perfect view of the whole concert, the sound mix helping to whisk them to the Nevada-Arizona state line. 

All of Idol’s big hits are present, opening with Cradle of Love before running through the likes of Dancing with Myself, Flesh for Fantasy, Rebel Yell, and of course White Wedding; no classic is left unheard. Idol also sneaks in some newer material, including pandemic-composed Cage. Add to that an exclusive live performance of John Wayne, featuring accompaniment from Allison Mosshart, and a throwback to his Generation X days with One hundred Punks, and you have the perfect Billy Idol centred party.

Idol is the consummate performer and still throws himself into putting on a show with as much vigour as he did in his twenties. A true showman, his magnetism and charisma on stage is second to none. Most importantly, Idol is not an egotist. He repeatedly highlights the musicians around him, making sure the audience knows who his talented band and backing vocalists are. Idol also carves time into the show to grant Steve Stevens centre stage for an epic guitar solo. Anyone who has attended an Idol show in the past will know that this culminates in the Top Gun anthem, Steven Stevens being the co-composer alongside Harold Faltermeyer. These moments push the intimacy whilst the likes of White Wedding bring the energy. 

Most importantly Idol and Stevens are always reworking their iconic music, and although still very much the songs that the audience are familiar with, each of them has had a little tweak. Whether it is an extra guitar riff or a vocal flourish, watching Billy Idol live is a very different experience to listening to the record. The pinnacle of the entire show comes, rightly, in its closing moments as Stevens extends the outro of White Wedding. Idol stands in his trademark fist in the air pose and as Stevens strikes the chords; they echo and reverberate around their majestic surroundings, inducing immediate and permanent chills.  

An historic show immortalised on screen, Billy Idol: State Line is a ferocious live recording that transports the viewer to the show, allowing them to still feel present at what must have been a truly magic concert. Idol, with his whiplash smile, remains the perfect showman, and when accompanied by Steve Stevens, one of the greatest guitarists to ever walk the Earth. You can’t help but fall under the spell. 

Billy Idol: State Line – Live at Hoover Dam

Kat Hughes

Billy Idol: State Line – Live at Hoover Dam

Summary

Directors Vincent Adam Paul & George Scott do an exceptional job of making the viewer feel as though they are watching in the flesh, rather than fantasy. Billy Idol: State Line is exactly what you want from a live show, making it an absolute must-watch for fans of the musician and live music in general.

5

Billy Idol: State Line – Live At Hoover Dam will be in UK Cinemas for One Night Only on 14th November, book your tickets at http://billyidollive.com/. The film will then be available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from 11th December.

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