The biggest-selling, most heavily bleached pop star to hit the Turf Club since Lady Gaga stopped in for a drink five years ago, '80s pseudo-punk Billy Idol rolled into St. Paul's rockiest watering hole Monday night for a promotional gig that blurred the lines between hipster cool and guilty-pleasure schmaltz.
Playing an all-acoustic set with only guitarist Steve Stevens for accompaniment, the snarly faced, spiky-haired British rocker was booked into the 300-capacity venue as part of a 10-day series of events marking 89.3 the Current's 10th anniversary celebrations. The station's jockey Mary Lucia showed her unique appreciation for Idol as she introduced him to the stage. "He has lived nine lives … and has probably already shagged 10 times today," Lucia cracked.
The 59-year-old singer smiled often and looked and sounded to be in great shape. He opened with a full-throated version of his 1982 hit "White Wedding" and ended with an audience-accompanied "Rebel Yell." In between, he dropped in the less enduring but still crowd-pleasing hits "Eyes Without a Face," "Sweet Sixteen" and "To Be a Lover" along with "Kiss Me Deadly," a song by his pre-hitmaking band Generation X.
"This acoustic stuff is hard work," Idol joked to Stevens after bellowing hard to rock up "To Be a Lover" near the end. "Let's go back to electric tomorrow."
He apparently wasn't kidding: The show ended abruptly with six songs clocking in at 30 minutes total. The audience cheered hard for an encore to no avail, so much so that Lucia came back out to cut everyone off. "[Billy] has to catch a plane," she claimed, probably the first time any performer has used that line at the Turf Club.
DiCamillo becomes Reading Champion
Minnesota writer Kate DiCamillo — the Library of Congress Ambassador for Young People's Literature, author of more than a dozen books (with a new novel coming out next year), and in-demand public speaker — has signed on to be the first National Summer Reading Champion, working with the nonprofit Collaborative Summer Library Program. DiCamillo will appear in a series of public service announcements, participate in a national media campaign, and appear at events across the country. The aim of the program is to encourage families and children to take part in library summer reading programs — and it dovetails nicely with her work as ambassador, which is also to promote reading. Reading — especially families reading together — has long been a passion of DiCamillo's, who grew up with a mother who read to her and indulged her love of books. (Once Kate checked a book out of the library so many times her mother finally went up to the librarians and asked if they could buy it. They told her, "You know it doesn't work that way.") DiCamillo, the author of "Because of Winn-Dixie," "Flora & Ulysses" and many other books, is one of the few writers to be honored twice with the Newbery Medal.