Grand Sierra Resort showcases renovated Grand Theatre with ageless Billy Idol

Nick McCabe

Billy Idol breaks in the remodeled Grand Theatre in Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort.

Grand Sierra Resort will always mark Aug. 7, 2015, as the date it reopened the Grand Theatre following a $10 million renovation, and what better way to kick off the new age of musical performances than with the legendary Billy Idol?

Behind the scenes, teams of contractors and laborers put in massive overtime hours to pull off the event. Only that morning, the fire department granted final approval for the venue to be opened to the public. As the crowd of Billy Idol fans gathered outside, workers were still putting on final touches and cleaning the theater to make it perfect.

Although the stage setup was fairly basic, that impression vanished as soon as the band hopped onboard. Billy wore an all-black outfit with a thigh-length jacket appropriately adorned with studs and zippers. He sported leather suspenders hanging down past his knees, just the way any self-respecting rocker would wear them. Lead guitarist Steve Stevens had the rock ’n’ roll big hair working (with a good deal of hair spray holding it up), a wildly printed silk shirt, scarf with skull and crossbones and black leather pants. Someone had to wear a pair (sorry if that sounds like a “Fashion Channel” correspondent).

The show started with “Postcards From The Past” from the band’s first new album in eight years, “Kings and Queens of The Underground.” It was a powerful opening salvo figuratively making the statement, “I’m back!” Billy marched around the stage sneering and pumping his clinched fist for most of the show. He interacted with the crowd by reaching down to them many times. There were a couple slight costume changes during the show, which eventually featured his bare and sweaty chest as well as a shirtless Billy Idol. This was a pretty daring move for an almost-60-year-old rock and roller. He wasn’t sporting a six pack, but he does look pretty good for his age.

Lead guitarist Stevens is an amazing player, having also performed with Sebastian Bach, Vince Neil and Michael Jackson. He burned up some fantastic solos and did his own stage strutting throughout the show. He pulled out some classic Jimi Hendrix moves by playing the guitar behind is head and with his teeth, although not at the same time. That would be very impressive.

Backing up these two dynamic front men was Billy’s amazing band, comprised of Stephen McGrath on bass guitar and vocals, Billy Morrison on rhythm guitar and backup vocals (he also has writing credits for more than half the songs on the new album), Erik Eldenius on drums and Paul Trudeau on keyboards and guitar.

This show deserves nothing but praise. It was filled with a palpable energy that got the crowd completely involved. Billy Idol didn’t miss a beat. He strutted, he snarled, he sweated and he tossed his shirt off with no reservations. During their performance of the Doors “LA Woman,” there was a power failure on stage that left only Billy Idol electrified, but he kept going like a true professional. It only lasted about a minute or so, but he quipped that a power failure with only his guitar playing was the worst nightmare.

Dean Martin was the first performer in the original Grand Theatre. With Billy Idol going on record as the new venue opener, a clear watermark has been laid on the changes in music and theatrical performance, and there’s no looking back.

Check out the Grand Sierra Resort concert schedule HERE

  • Billy Idol
    Grand Sierra Resort, Aug. 7
    “Postcards From The Past” (from new album*)
    “Cradle of Love”
    “Can’t Break Me Down” (from new album)
    “Dancing With Myself” (Generation X)
    “Flesh For Fantasy”
    “Save Me Now” (from new album)
    “Ready Steady Go” (Generation X)
    “Sweet Sixteen”
    “Eyes Without a Face”
    “LA Woman” (The Doors)
    Steve Stevens Guitar Solo
    “Whiskey and Pills” (from new album)
    “Blue Highway”
    “Rebel Yell”
    “White Wedding”
    “Mony Mony” (Tommy James and the Shondells)
  • *New album is “Kings and Queens of The Underground”

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About Nick McCabe

Nick McCabe is a musician, photographer and writer from Reno. He is the editor of the music website Front Row Photo. He plays in a seven-piece band, Apothic.

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