Wednesday, August 06, 2014

What I'm Listening To -- Billy Joel

If you were to ask me my favorite musician of all time, I'd undoubtedly say Billy Joel.  When I was growing up, I started playing the piano at the ripe old age of four and I continued taking lessons well into my twenties.  Throughout those pre-teen and teen years, I'm not sure I would've continued had it not been for a fantastic piano teacher and Billy Joel himself.  You see, it was cool (in my eyes) to play the piano because he did.  His music, while nothing overly fancy or overly stylized, told stories that I loved to hear.

This past Saturday, I finally got a chance to see my favorite musician in concert at Citizens Bank Park on a beautiful, surprisingly cool, summer evening and I wasn't disappointed at all.  (Well, I wish he played for longer than the two hours and ten minute set, but other than that slight qualm, there was no disappointment.)  Backed by a great band -- complete with a percussion, horns, and a few guitars -- Mr. Joel sat down at the piano and the man sang us his songs.  With the audience singing along to classics like "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and "Piano Man," Joel peppered the setlist with a few lesser known tunes -- "Zanzibar," anyone? -- that showed that the scope of his music is much broader than the casual listener would think.

The aforementioned "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" was certainly a standout for me -- it's one of my dad's favorite songs and was always a goal to be able to play it flawlessly on the piano (which happens every now and again).  That and "Piano Man" gave me chills.  However, I found newfound admiration for the throwaway ditty "Uptown Girl" which opened the stellar five-song hit-packed encore, was moved by a powerful rendition of "Goodnight Saigon" during which service men came onstage to sing the heart-wrenching chorus, and enjoyed special guests Boyz II Men as they dueted with Joel on "The Longest Time" -- a song he rarely plays at concerts.  Other highlights -- "Pressure," "Vienna," "Movin' Out," "Big Shot," I could go on and on...

Admittedly, the Billy Joel concert on Saturday, August 2, may not have been the best concert I've ever been to -- McCartney still probably takes the top prize -- but it was certainly my favorite.  I've been listening to Joel's music non-stop since Saturday and that proves the success of the show.  (It also made me long for a new cd...but I respect him for realizing that he may have said all he had to say musically.)  I look forward to seeing Joel live again and may have to head up to Madison Square Garden in the future to check him out on one of his monthly shows there.

(Note:  Gavin DeGraw opened for Joel...the less said, the better...)

Billy Joel Setlist -- Citizens Bank Park -- August 2, 2014
1.  A Matter of Trust
2.  Pressure
Your Song -- snippet
3. The Entertainer
4. Vienna (Audience choice selected over Summer, Highland Falls)
Gonna Fly Now -- snippet
5.  Zanzibar
6.  The Longest Time (with Boyz II Men)
7.  New York State of Mind
Expressway to Your Heart -- snippet
8.  Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
9.  Goodnight Saigon
10.  Allentown
11.  My Life
12.  She's Always a Woman
13.  We Didn't Start the Fire
14.  Highway to Hell (full song sung by Billy Joel's roadie)
15.  Don't Ask Me Why
16.  Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
17.  The River of Dreams (featuring "Summer in the City")
18.  Piano Man

19.  Uptown Girl
20.  It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
21.  Big Shot
22.  You May Be Right
23.  Only the Good Die Young

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