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Timeless career shock: Idol and Steve Stevens rock it in 2009!
on 4 January 2010
Who'd have thought it? This is a cracking, hugely entertaining live concert DVD. Despite all the odds, Idol delivers a spirited rock show, complete with full sneer (even if he doesn't have quite the puff he once did), and whilst he may not be to everyone's tastes, and arguably made a little go a long way in terms of his career, there's no denying his engaging presence here. However, for me this film was all about Steve Stevens; lordy, the man is out of this world and I couldn't take my eyes off him throughout, for he still has the power to bewitch and beguile. Where so many rock guitarists from Stevens' heyday are about overload, SS's contributions to the Idol act always stood out for their restraint (no, seriously!), being more about textures and versatility, genre meshing and moods. In short, the man is a super-talented guitarist working for the groove, instead of the other way around.
A true double act, Idol and Stevens work the stage and the crowd like the 90s never happened, with Stevens turning endless styles on a six-pence, weaving amazing, often understated punctuations around the singer; proving that musical vibe is as much about the gaps and the spaces you leave as the actual notes you hammer out. Riffing hard rock one moment, then expertly rolling some gorgeous FX waves the next, Stevens never looses sight of the mood expertly bouncing on, off and around the rhythm section, which, overly loud snare-drum aside are highly effective. (And highly entertaining: watch the drummer bouncing his sticks during some of the songs). So while Idol is out front pouting and preening, Stevens is providing the backbone for the show; throwing down a vibrant canvas for Idol to profile himself against.
The standout track for me was Flesh for Fantasy, where the extended dance elements that rendered the original single such a crossover hit are translated into a tantalizingly orgasmic show of tease and restraint. Grunge may have killed off Idol's career along with many other rockers of his time (and what was left, Idol did for himself through drug issues, the Cyberpunk album and seemingly endless, debilitating motorbike crashes), but like the great rockers of the 70s returning once the Punk dust had settled, guitarists like Steve Stevens - when they're offset by a solid front man, as he undoubtedly is here - can't be beat.