My wife and I joined some good friends to go see Billy Joel in concert last Saturday. It was a wonderful evening, one where we left hoarse from all the singing we did. The beauty of his music is he has something for everyone and many generations were captured on the big screen singing right along.
At the age of 66, Joel can entertain, but he does get weary. His only break was he spoke between songs and the few minutes before he returned for five song encore. The song that the crowd loves to hear, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” took its toll on him. It is three songs blended into one, with distinctive melodies in each as it tells the story of Brenda and Eddie who were high school sweethearts, marry and divorce during the same summer. But, it is more about reflections of others over these times as they drink bottles of reds and whites at the restaurant.
Joel was so spent, that as he put on his harmonica holder around his neck, he had to catch his breath to begin his pre-encore finale of “Piano Man.” His songs help you reminisce about times in your life, as he told you every so often which album and year the song came out. He was also very engaging, dedicating one song to Donald Trump, before he proceeded with his first hit “The Entertainer.”
In addition to his songs, he noted that it was the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album and sang “Norwegian Wood” and “Hard Days Night,” blending this song into the middle of his “In the Middle of the Night.” His group is so talented musically, as he of course is, they even finished one of his faster songs with a tribute to Led Zeppelin.
He took the time to honor the victims in Paris as he played France’s national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” and encouraged us all not to give up our freedom and live our lives. He then paused and said “f*ck them,” about the terrorists. This drew a lengthy applause.
Throughout, he played and talked to us. It was a special evening. After “The Entertainer,” which has a line which means if you don’t stay on the charts, you get put on the discount rack like another can of beans. He said, “what do I know. I haven’t been on the charts for 22 years and I am still here. And, so are you.”
He played about 2 1/2 hours and we heard many of our favorites. “She is always a woman to me,” was a huge sing along. “I’m in a New York state of mind,” was terrific. He started his encore with “We didn’t start the fire,” which led into “Uptown Girl,” which is even better sung live.
It was a terrific concert, flashback and memory. Billy, thanks for all you have done for us. And, keep on doing it.