It's been a while, hasn't it? Billy Squier hasn't toured solo since 2001, and was part of RINGO STARR'S ALL STAR BAND(you may have heard of him) in 2006 and 2008, which apparently ignited the spark in him to go out on the road again and re-visit the old dreaded 'back catalog' once again. I really wasn't sure what to expect when I got there, as Billy has done acoustic shows in the recent past, and I honestly did not want to look up anything online about the tour because I wanted to be surprised when I got there.
Seeing a full band set up on the stage was the first tip off that, this would be a full blown rock show... thank GOD! Plus it was in a concert hall at the Hilton Hotel/Casino that held about 1,200 people, so an unplugged performance was probably not in the cards. Besides seeing him briefly on one of those 850 different VH-1 rock specials on the 80s, or ‘Where Are They Now’ something like that, I had no idea what he looked like these days or who was going to be in his band.
The opening pre-recorded intro to “All Night Long” pumps out of the speakers and there he is at the back of the stage, back to the crowd, arm in the air... it was a fake out, as he starts to play the opening chords to “Lonely Is The Night” and as he turns around, the band kicks into the song, he runs to the front of the stage, signature Sunburst Les Paul in hand, looking tan, fit and trim, still has all of his hair(shorter), and it's like 1983 all over again. Almost. The only holdover from his original 'heyday' band line-up is keyboardist Alan St. Jon, looking like a cross between Sammy Hagar and veteran record producer Tom Werman these days. Not the clean shaven, mullet-wearing dude in “The Stroke” video, but looking reasonably cool none the less. In fact, Billy's entire band looks like a celebrity look-alike contest LOL. Bassist Mark Clarke I thought might have been ex-Ozzy bassist Bob Daisley until Billy announced his name. He was on Billy's 1st solo tour for Tale Of The Tape and is in the Big Beat video as well. Drummer Nir Z reminded me of Joey Kramer from AEROSMITH big time, I almost thought it might have been his son judging by the way he played the drum kit, his mannerisms, etc. Guitarist Marc Copely looked like a cross between the late Jeff Buckley and Charlie Sexton...it was bizarre. All were excellent, a tight, rocking band that did the songs justice. Sure, I'd like to have seen his original line up with Jeff Golub on guitar, who's a jazz musician these days, and Bobby Chouinard on drums who unfortunately passed away recently, but his new band did a fine job.
The set list was a general overview of his career, from Piper (Little Miss Intent) to more obscure tracks like “G.O.D.”, there were some glaring omissions though, like “Two Days Gone”, “In The Dark, “All Night Long”, “Learn How To Live”, “Don't Let Me Go”...you would think that any Billy Squier gig would have these in the set, but there were more obscure tracks in its place. I can understand him wanting to go out and play some of this stuff for the true hard cores and himself, but if you're doing casino gigs, these are people that want to hear everything they know first, then if there's room, throw in an obscure tune or 2. But this is a minor complaint as the gig was excellent, and it was great to just see him on stage rocking out again after such a long absence. I never got to see him back in the day, so I enjoyed the chance to do it now-thanks Billy!