My Continuing Love Affair With Billy Joel

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on November 3, 2009 0 Comments

I wrote this article 8 years ago after an incredible concert. It was historical, magical and I didn’t want it to ever end. The best part was that my sister and niece were with me, what could be more fun?

 Two weeks ago I saw Billy Joel in concert with Elton John. It’s been 10 years since seeing Billy, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’d never seen Elton John before and I was doubly excited to see these two legendary giants of the music world together.

How dramatic it was when the 2 pianos started rising from the floor of the stage-the crowd went wild. “Face2Face” is the name of the tour and it’s just awesome (the only word that describes the feelings) to hear BJ & EJ absolutely wail on those pianos.

These guys genuinely like each other, are having a great time and love each other’s music. I’m not as familiar with Elton’s much older music, but I admire his work with AIDS fundraising and I’ve come to realize and marvel at his immense talent. I had many of his CD’s from the 1980’s. 

My sister and I hoped Elton would sing certain songs, (hers was “Philadelphia Freedom”, mine were “Crocodile Rock” & “I’m Still Standing”). My niece wasn’t sure about Elton John songs, but she definitely wanted Billy Joel to sing every single song he’s ever recorded!

The Forum in Los Angeles is where the L.A. Lakers played basketball for many years. It’s an arena, pure & simple. Most seats are great. Ours were not too high and we had a fairly good view of the oval-shaped stage. I brought binoculars to be sure I wouldn’t miss a single gesture or smile.

There were 3 tiers to the stage. The top tier was full of drums, guitars, extra keyboards & percussion equipment. The second tier was large but with nothing on it (at first), the third tier was just a walkway around the stage. The front row was right up against this.

After the pianos rose from nowhere (thus the second tier), the legendary Elton John & Billy Joel walked out to screaming & cheering fans. The concert started with both performers singing each other’s songs and greeting the audience. We we thrilled.

Suddenly the lights went out and Billy’s piano disappeared, as did he, leaving Elton and his band alone.

Now mind you, Elton & Billy are different in their approach. Never having seen Elton before in concert I don’t know if he’s changed, but he certainly was intense in his performance. Not much bow-taking between each song. He went smoothly from one great song to another. An instrumental, a few slower songs and several rockin’ songs. I admit there were a few I didn’t know at all. A few others I knew, but not all the words.

We were just warming up when he broke into “Philadelphia Freedom”….it was perfect. My sister was thrilled. The house went wild (as did I) when he began “Crocodile Rock”. Everyone gets to sing the chorus on that one… and what can I say when he finished his hour alone on stage with “I’m Still Standing”? It’s become my latest theme song! He also does 3 costume changes during the 4 hour concert. I also sort of went wild when he sang “The Bitch Is Back”. My sister looked at me like I was crazy. She’d never heard the song before but loved it.

My niece was antsy and more than ready for Billy Joel. I made the observation that it was a “Billy Joel crowd”. There was something that told me the crowd had saved it up for BJ’s  hour and I was right!
Not that we all hadn’t gone wild for Elton, but I felt people were holding back just a bit.
Elton & his piano vanished and Billy Joel appeared. I can’t remember everything he sang, I was so caught up in the magic of watching & listening…and singing. 

We decided the concert was dedicated and catered to us Baby Boomers because both BJ & EJ sang many of the older songs. Billy sang “Angry Young Man”, “Anthony’s Song”, “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” and “River of Dreams”.

When he put on a guitar and took center stage he started acting like Elvis and sang 2 Elvis songs…he was so funny.

He does more performing to the audience than does Elton.

He was the same Billy Joel I’d seen in 4 other previous concerts and he had so much energy. His songs were punctuated by his antics and made everyone laugh & cheer him on. OK, he isn’t running up & down scaffoldings anymore, but he is running around, twirling & throwing the microphone stand into the air and all the while singing his songs with enthusiasm.

He sang an Elton John song as had Elton sang “Uptown Girl” during his time alone on stage.

All too soon Billy’s hour was over but the concert went into high gear at that point.

Both performers performed the last hour together, doing Beatle songs, a Jerry Lee Lewis song and a few of each other’s songs.

Elton sang “Goodbye Norma Jean” and together they sang “Piano Man” with the audience singing the chorus. It was magical.

The last hour of the concert we were on our feet. We were singing, clapping, jumping up & down and generally cheering everything.

There were 3 encores and it was over……Whew! 

There is NOTHING like live music. NOTHING. I love plays and musicals but…….

A rock concert is even more LIVE if you can understand that. Flashing lights, an arena of cheering fans, most of us singing along, the energy onstage as well as off, even the vendors in the lobby hawking the t-shirts and programs…it’s all part of the excitement.

If Billy Joel and/or Elton John are coming to your area soon, run don’t walk to buy tickets NOW. I know most concerts are sold out but they always open more dates.

(2009) Don’t ever miss an opportunity to see some of the now older rock stars in concert. They really know how to put on a fantastic show.

Rock & roll soothes my soul…there is nothing in the world like it.

Sue Goryan
February 19, 2001


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Self employed and independant. I've worked very hard to get this far in life and had many ups and downs, but I'm still going strong.

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