A Concert Review
It was family night at the Rosemont Horizon for Billy Joel's show
this time around. Those that used to be chuckling as Billy would
sing "masturbate" during "Captain Jack," or
having "Just the Way You Are" played at their wedding,
well, they have kids now, and a lot of those parents seemed to bring
along the kids for a night out of, as Billy so eloquently put it,
"a lot of old shit." And that was alright with me.
Billy Joel was in the Chicago area for a make-up date of a
previously cancelled show, and he seemed generally happy that the
fans adjusted their schedules accordingly. Opening with "You
May Be Right," this would be a night of Billy playing most of
those hits that you know and love, while still being the entertainer
he is famous for.
Taking my seat, I first start my observational portion of the
show. The stage set-up was similar to the last time I saw him - a
piano in the middle, a walkway around to the back end of the stage,
with keyboards around the walkway so that there really isn't a bad
place to be sitting. Then I noticed he had a little TV on his piano
and one on the floor at the front of the stage. Hmm? It was Sunday
night - maybe he didn't want to miss "The X-Files?" But,
as the show started, rather than a picture on the tube, it looked
liked words scrolling. Hmm? Maybe it's one of those newfangled
portable books? Billy has said he is getting a little tired and/or
bored of playing the same songs over and over, so he might be trying
to catch up on his reading during the show. I figured it couldn't be
a teleprompter because he would be playing songs he has played so
many times that he knew them like the back of his hand. Not that I
think there's anything wrong with teleprompters, hell, the best of
them have used them, so I suppose Billy could too, if he wanted.
Alright, enough observationalizing. On with the show.
So, Billy opens, and from the start I knew I would not be
disappointed, and neither would the crowd who matters more. The
show, yea, it was a "best of" Billy Joel show, with, well,
you name the song and there's a good chance he played it (except
don't name "Captain Jack" nor "Just the Way You
Are" because he didn't play them). But, if you were to name
songs like "Allentown," "Pressure,"
"Innocent Man," "My Life," "The River of
Dreams," "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel),"
"Goodnight Saigon," "Scenes From an Italian
Restaurant," and, well, "Piano Man" (duh?), you'd be
right. And if you were to name some non-Billy Joel songs, like
"My Kind of Town" or the theme for Miss America (as he
gathered up dozens of roses from adoring fans), well, he played
those or snippets of those as well. And if you wondered what Billy
would do between songs, well, the crowd was treated to a lot of
great piano-jammin' ranging from classical-ish to big band-ish;
Billy poking fun at himself about songs he's written for his
ex-wives; poking fun with "I hate when that happens" as he
held a broken rose down by his, well, you get the idea; and telling
the crowd "If I screw up one lyric it's a freakin' trainwreck…
Feel free to sing along" before "We Didn't Start the
Fire." He is the piano man, but just as important he is the
The show was great, even though Billy did blow a line on
"It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" (I wondered if his
reading that book would get in the way!). He knows the importance of
his singing, but maybe more importantly he realizes the crowd. He
lets them sing when they want to, like during the chorus to
"Piano Man" when the band stops, the crowd sings, and
Billy spins around on his piano stool to see everyone; he lets the
crowd see him, like during "Sometimes a Fantasy" when he
headed to one of those rear keyboards, spinning it around (I
wondered if he ever spun it around too many times and unplugged a
cable) so the behind-the-stage seats were the best seats in the
house; he lets the crowd go home not having to scream "One
more! One more! One more!" like the lady next to me was doing
before he finished the evening with "Only the Good Die
Young" and "Piano Man"; and he gives advice -
"Goodnight! Don't take any shit from anybody."
Could Billy Joel get a bad review from me? I highly doubt it,
even if he did play at the original date and couldn't sing, because
I think somehow, someway, he would still figure out how to make the
crowd go away happy. That's what's important, and he does it well.
So, Billy Joel, on what may be his last show in Chicago for a
while as he wraps up, what I call, his "I Need a Break From
Singing All of Those Same Songs Again" tour, gets TWO
"MIDDLE C" THUMBS UP from me!! I've read that he is
looking to cut things back a little, maybe do some classical pieces
and such, and that's alright with me. Personally, I would go see him
play anything. Put him in front of a piano, let him play, and I'll
be there. I bet most of you would be, too.
That's it for this one!! I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!