Review: Billy Idol: State Line – Live at Hoover Dam

DVD/Blu-Ray Release Date: December 15th

Have you ever wanted to see a seasoned rocker perform at an American historical landmark? Maybe not, but earlier this year Billy Idol made it happen. Back in April, the Vital Idol performed the first-ever concert in front of the Hoover Dam. Why? Because he’s Billy Fucking Idol. If you weren’t one of the lucky 250 who could afford the ridiculously expensive tickets, you’re in luck. The once-in-a-lifetime event has been immortalized for the big screen as Billy Idol: State Line – Live at Hoover Dam.

Part historical documentary, part rockumentary the film starts with Idol giving us fast facts about the dam’s construction in his best Rick Steves impression. On paper, it sounds weird; why is Billy Idol teaching me about the Hoover Dam? But it doesn’t take long for you to get sucked in. The rocker admits if he wasn’t a musician, he would be a history teacher and his enthusiasm and awe when talking about the Hoover Dam makes you believe him. Idol’s excitement about the exclusive show is infectious and soon enough, you’re ready to see him do what he does best.

Before the main event, we get some behind-the-scenes footage of stage set up along with an acoustic warm up gig from Idol and longtime collaborator/guitarist Steve Stevens. They run through hits like “Eyes without a Face,” “Rebel Yell,” and “Flesh for Fantasy” proving both men are still masters of their respective crafts. Just as you’re getting into the behind-the-scenes footage and history lessons provided by Idol, the rest of the documentary turns into a standard concert film.

Idol and his current band featuring Stevens, guitarist Billy Morrison, keyboardist Paul Trudeau, bassist Stephen McGrath, and drummer Erik Eldenius blaze through a 15-song set of greatest hits including “Cradle of Love,” “Mony Mony,” “Dancing with Myself,” “To Be a Lover,” and, of course, the iconic “White Wedding.” Idol sprinkles in a few deep cuts, such as “John Wayne” with special guest Alison Mosshart of The Dead Weather helping on vocals, the Generation X song “One Hundred Punks,” “Blue Highway,” and “Cage” from his 2022 EP The Cage. Mosshart wasn’t the only special guest of the evening. Throughout the set, Idol brings out Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal to play on a few tracks.

Though it’s been over 40 years since Idol took the masses by storm with his trademark sneer, he’s still got those velvety smooth, haunting vocals. Idol remains a charismatic performer. He revels in all the love and adulation from the crowd. Most importantly, he loves being on stage. No doubt he’s performed tracks like “Rebel Yell” thousands of times at this point, but if he’s tired of it he never lets it show. His energy is so infectious that you’ll start fist-pumping and singing along.

Billy Idol – State Line is a helluva good time.  The show itself is spectacular and a special treat for fans. Even the history is interesting if a little out of place. The film aims to be part rockumentary, part history doc, but never really hits that sweet spot. Instead, the segments feel out of place especially since they’re at the start of the film and disappear once the show begins. The concert itself is a must-see for fans. It’s breathtaking to see Idol rocking the night away with the stunning view of the dam right behind him. His whiplash smile and fist pumps leave you wanting more, more, more.

Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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