(Anita Gosch / ©S&S)

(Anita Gosch / ©S&S)

(Anita Gosch / ©S&S)

(Anita Gosch / ©S&S)

(Anita Gosch / ©S&S)

Billy Idol performs in Frankfurt, Germany, in November, 1990.

Billy Idol performs in Frankfurt, Germany, in November, 1990. (Anita Gosch / ©S&S)

It was typical Billy Idol.

Last week in Frankfurt, Germany, Idol wanted to walk on stage at the Festhalle with a seeing-eye-eye dog and a blind-man's cane. It seems the singer had a scratched cornea from a contact lens and he wanted to take full advantage of it by having press photographers take his picture.

That idea was nixed. Instead, photographers were asked to come backstage to shoot Idol with the dog andcane as he came walking down a hallway filled with smoke from a smoke machine.

Only the dog wouldn't cooperate. The giant, long haired-type German shepherd kept wanting to go back to the dressing room (his own, no doubt) instead of walking obediently by Idol's side toward the cameras.

The photographers chuckled. "We need some wursts here," said one.

Idol didn't seem pleased. If anything, he looked embarrassed. After about a minute, he let the dog go and bounded up toward the stage,

Despite the foolish little incident — and despite his scratched cornea — Idol went on to give a powerful and energetic two-hour show with songs that reached as far back as his 1982 debut solo album.

It was Idol's first tour of Germany — he left Europe for a solo career in New York in 1981 after the breakup of his former band, British punksters Generation X. Backed by new guitarist Mark Younger-Smith, two female backup singers, a keyboard player, bass player and drummer, he gave his German fans all the expected hits: the rockers White Wedding, Dancing With Myself, Rebel Yell, Eyes Without a Face, To Be a Lover and Flesh for Fantasy, the ballad Sweet Sixteen, the Tommy James classic Mony Mony, the live staple L.A. Woman and songs from his current release, Charmed Life.

The stage set was simple but what one would expect of Idol. On the left, a giant skull glared at the fans with eyes that lit up, on the right was a figure of a woman displaying a huge, naked bottom, and in the center hung a giant clenched fist.

Idol may have toned down the music from his previous albums somewhat for Charmed Life, but on stage he's still the rocker. Despite the motorcycle accident in February that smashed his right leg, the energy of his live show hasn't diminished. Wearing sunglasses throughout the concert and carrying his blind-man's cane for kicks, he pranced, strutted and sneered about the stage like a modern-day Elvis Presley, growling out the rockers and purring through the ballads.

The mention of Idol's name among rock fans has always brought diametrically opposed reactions: People either love him or hate him. So it was interesting to see just what kind of fans Idol attracts.

The crowd was mixed. There were screeching schoolgirls, ecstatic-looking secretary types, some scantily clad, heavily made-up women of all ages, a few male Idol-look-alikes with spiked, dyed-blond hair (including one who had come all the way from Dresden), young and not-so-young men who tried to look bored but were soon caught up in the music and energy.

But despite the fans' diversity, the accolades were universal.

"I saw the Rolling Stones and David Bowie this year, and Mick Jagger and Bowie both seem so old on stage," said an 18-year-old woman. "But Billy Idol radiates this youth and stamina."

"He exudes some kind of sexuality that just cannot be denied," added an American. "Even as a guy I can feel it."

Only one negative point from the concert comes to mind: Idol's former guitarist Steve Stevens is sorely missed, both as a musician and as a personality on stage — sort of the dark-haired counterpart to Idol.

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