I realized last night that my parents did me a huge disservice while I was growing up – they deprived me of Billy Joel. No Billy Joel music. I’m not quite sure how I got through my childhood without ever hearing “The Pianoman.” Although, this now explains why when “We Didn’t Start the Fire” came on at high school dances, everyone else acted as though they knew the song and loved it – like they had grown up listening to this stuff, and I was stuck dancing to the song, trying to understand what the big deal was. But last night…there was redemption.
Last night, Sarah and I went to hear a 57-year old Billy Joel at Philips Arena down here in Atlanta – and it was an amazing concert. I spent all day at work listening to Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits albums to try and “catch up” and become familiar with his music. I’ve been to a lot of concerts in big arenas (mainly bands like Jimmy Eat World, Incubus, Green Day), but never a sit down show like this. It was phenomenal – and our seats, while in the nosebleed section, were very good. The lights and everything were amazing. And Billy…
He is absolutely hilarious. If you’ve ever seen him perform, he puts on a great show. His voice, his body-language, the way he “acts out” the lyrics to his songs, the way he gets energized by the crowd. He loved the crowd and really knew how to have fun with us. Everything from his dancing on the piano stool to dressing and acting like a rapper during “Big Shot.” And his band is out of this world – some amazing musicians.
But his music…his music is amazing. He played most of his greatest hits (“The Entertainer,” “Moving Out”, “New York State of Mind”, “She’s Always a Woman”, “Keeping the Faith”, “River of Dreams”, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, “Big Shot”, “It’s Still Rock-n-Roll To Me”, “Only the Good Die Young”, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”, and, of course, “The Pianoman”) as well as some local Georgia favorites (“Good Golly Miss Molly,” Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” and “Georgia on My Mind”) – for the full set list go here. His repertoire is huge and he can go from some great ballads like “She’s Always a Woman” and “Vienna” to rock classics like “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Big Shot” and “Movin’ Out.” The music really was phenomenal.
And Billy Joel interacts with the crowd so well. He joked with us at the beginning by saying “I’m actually Billy’s dad…Billy’s back there now getting ready, I’m just supposed to entertain you while you wait” and made numerous jokes about his (lack of) hair. Definitely a crowd-pleaser, Billy Joel rocked out a packed Philips Arena. Although, one of the highlights of the evening had nothing to do with Billy Joel. One of his roadies, Chainsaw, came out and belted out AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” – it was amazing. I think the crowd was probably the loudest during this part of the show – Billy Joel played the guitar while “Chainsaw” ran around the stage singing this AC/DC classic.
And then…then there was “The Pianoman.” Great song, and everyone holding their cell phones up (the 21st c. version of the lighter at concerts) singing along was a great way to end my first (but hopefully not last) Billy Joel experience. If you want to see more pictures from the evening, go here.