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December 20, 2014

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Billy Idol puts on a sneer-perfect performance at Pearl in the Palms

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Scott Harrison/Retna/www.harrisonphotos.com

Billy Idol at The Pearl in the Palms on Aug. 21, 2010.

Deep into Billy Idol's performance Saturday at Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms, a woman next to me pulled away my NotePad (the formal title to discern the NotePad from the iPad) and scrawled, "You know what impresses me? Billy Idol's six-pack!"

This was sometime between Steve Stevens' piercing guitar solo in "Eyes Without a Face" and the no-ambiguity chant in "Mony Mony" (loosely translated: "Hey, you dancing there! Have sex! A couple times!"). The Tommy James & The Shondells classic closed the show..

I almost hate to write about this abdominal thing when writing of Idol, because this guy can still sing his guts out and drive a music hall nutso. But he keeps making a big deal out of the abs, and good for him. He's 54 years old, and in great condition — if he weren't a rock star he'd be posing on a billboard, shirtless, under the claim, "This man is 54 years old, but has the body of an 18-year-old!"

Idolatry physical worship from the women in the jammed audience, at least those in my limited radius, was just a smidgen of the experience at Pearl Theater. Idol tore through nearly two hours of his familiar hits and even selections from his days with the punk band Generation X. Most Idol fans remember when he fairly dominated MTV in the early and mid-1980s, wearing a hairstyle and sneer that greatly lent itself to videos zealously introduced by Martha Quinn.

It always has helped that Idol's music is catchy in a clutch-your-throat way, his baritone voice instantly recognizable against Stevens' manic guitar work. Idol just blasts the vocals, shredding his own hits, "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding," and also tearing apart the Doors classic, "L.A. Woman." He slowed down to play acoustic on "Sweet Sixteen," proving that if Billy Idol really wanted to, he could front a lounge act here in VegasVille. The start of "White Wedding," too, was acoustic — with Stevens playing acoustic to Idol's crooning — before the band cannon-balled in for the more traditional rocking version of the song.

Stevens was provided sufficient time and space to play electric and acoustic solos. He still wears coal-black hair '80s-style, spiked at the top and long everywhere else, and wore a fuchsia suit that glowed from the stage.

Stevens has been so integral to Idol's career that when the singer thanked, "America and Las Vegas for giving me a great (expletive) life!" he then turned to his longtime collaborator and said, "And thank you, Steve Stevens, for giving me a great (expletive) life!"

A great blanking life. He clearly loves this life, and when I grow up — or even if not — I want to be like Billy Idol.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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