An hour before heading to the Bluebird I met a friend of mine who saw X in East St. Louis a few weeks ago. He said it was a great show, but he also mentioned that guitarist Billy Zoom, who was looking a hell of a lot like Broncos owner Pat Bowlen these days, was ogling some really hot Latina in the crowd throughout most of the show.
So when Zoom first walked across the Bluebird’s stage last night, the first thing I noticed was that the dude could’ve been Bowlen’s hipper twin, dressed head to toe in black. Right after X opened with “Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not,” Zoom's eyes locked onto a blonde hottie in front of the middle of stage. The band was plowing through the tune with fierce conviction, but it was hard not to notice Zoom standing still, never looking at his guitar and literally staring through the young girl. Throughout the show, he zoomed in on a few others gals in the crowd, but once he a saw a brunette standing on the stairs on the side of the stage, Zoom was hooked. Dude couldn’t stop looking at her for the remainder of the show. Hell, he even walked over to her and had her touch his guitar during the middle of a song. It was funny at first, but his stage stalking got to be downright creepy after a while.
Creepy stage antics aside, Zoom’s a hell of a guitar player. And it was great to see him reunited with his old bandmates since leaving the band after Ain’t Love Grand was released in 1985. While X would go on to release a few more albums with new guitarist Tony Gilkyson, the band’s set last night was comprised of material written before Zoom left the band. Exene Cervenka and John Doe’s vocals were damn near flawless, whether they were running through tracks from 1980’s Los Angeles, 1981’s Wild Gift or 1982’s Under the Big Black Sun. The band also ran though a killer rendition of “The New World” (from 1983’s More Fun in the New World), where Cervenka and Doe sang “It was better before before they voted for what’s his name, this is supposed to be the world,” which resonates as much today as it did when Reagan was in office.
The band just plain nailed it for most of its twenty-six-song set (including two encores), especially on “Los Angeles,” “The Hungry Wolf,” “Breathless,” “Blue Spark” and “Because I Do.” Although Cervenka, Doe and drummer D.J. Bonebrake are now in their early fifties (Zoom’s a bit older), they bulldozed through nearly each song with the same intensity as they did when I saw them in '85 at the Rainbow Music Hall. -- Jon Solomon
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I’m damn glad they did this reunion tour with Billy Zoom, even if he did seem a tad creepy eyeing all the girls and even taking pictures of them after the show. Random Detail: Exene looked kind of like a governess gone bad in her black frock with a white lace collar By the Way: If you didn’t catch X’s sold-out show last night, the band’s playing at the Belly Up in Aspen tonight. It’s worth the three-and-a-half hour drive. Seriously.