Billy Idol certainly was an enormous pop star in the 80's, crafting major hits such as "White Wedding". I suppose that his sort of punkish sensibilities became somewhat dated as the 80's came to a close, but there's something energetic and timeless about some of the singer's best tunes that still remains catchy, energetic and lively.
This performance was taped for VH1's "Storytellers" series in April of 2001, as Idol provides a somewhat less over-the-top (and more enjoyable as a result) performance alongside famed guitarist Steve Stevens (whose "Flamenco A Go-Go" album is available on DVD-Audio and well worth picking up for those who have DVD-Audio or DTS-capable equipment). Idol's performance is fresh, fun and entertaining - he's obviously having a great time being on stage again, belting out his classic hits (as well as other tunes on this extended version included on the DVD) as if it's the 80's all over again. During this "Storytellers" session, Idol shares stories about what inspired his music in-between songs.
Songs: Cradle of Love, Don't Need a Gun, Flesh for Fantasy, White Wedding, Sweet Sixteen, To Be a Lover, Rebel Yell, Kiss Me Deadly, Eyes Without a Face, Dancing With Myself, Untouchables, Ready Steady Go, Blue Highway, Mony Mony, L.A. Woman. Note: This is the extended cut of the show, as Kiss Me Deadly, Eyes Without a Face, Untouchables, Ready Steady Go, Blue Highway, Mony Mony and Idol's take on the Door's "L.A. Woman" were not included in the original broadcast.
VIDEO: "Billy Idol: Storytellers" is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, as it was broadcast on VH-1. Image has done an excellent job of offering the full-frame material. Sharpness and detail were almost always quite good; a few shots here and there seemed to be slightly softer than the rest, but not terribly so.
Aside from a few stray hints of softness, there wasn't much else to be very concerned about. A slight trace or two of pixelation was seen, as was a couple of instances of shimmering, but no edge enhancement or other problems were noticed. Colors, such as stage lighting, were nicely rendered and didn't appear smeared.
SOUND: "Billy Idol: Storytellers" is presented by Image Entertainment in Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and Dolby 2.0. I have not reviewed an Image Enterainment concert release that offers what I would concider lackluster audio. In fact, the results are almost always the same when listening to Image's new concert DVDs - high quality audio, taking good-to-great advantage of 5.1 audio to place the viewer convincingly in the midst of the concert environment, whether it be a stadium show or small venue. "Billy Idol: Storytellers", a few minor concerns aside, is another instance of Image's excellent reputation for presentation quality.
Surrounds are not used agressively, which was pleasant, considering that this seemed to be a fairly small venue and didn't need stadium-sized atmosphere. Instead, the surrounds provide an enjoyable and appropriate amount of musical reinforcement and some nicely detailed and natural-sounding crowd noise. The front two main speakers provided instrumentals and Idol's vocals, while the center speaker provided instrumentals and backing vocals. I suppose I would have liked the more traditional format of the lead vocals being carried by the center channel, but Idol's voice remained clear and had fine presence, not overshadowed by the instrumentals.
Audio quality remained very pleasing throughout. Instrumentals were clearly defined and guitar work was especially natural and crisp sounding. Idol's vocals certainly were also certainly up to the challenge, clearly heard throughout. Both the Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks were very similar, although the DTS soundtrack seem to have a bit more depth to the sound in comparison to the Dolby Digital track, which seemed a bit flat in comparison.
MENUS: As often is the case for Image's concert titles, basic animation and music make up the main menu, offering a nice introduction.
EXTRAS: Discography and the ability to skip directly to the music rather than listen to Idol describe the origin of the tune.
Final Thoughts: "Billy Idol: Storytellers" is a fun and entertaining journey through some of Idol's best work. It's done with high energy and good spirits and it's hard not to get caught up. Image's DVD remains slight in the way of supplements, but the audio/video quality are definitely very enjoyable. Recommended.