Can you name that tune?
Just how many songs’ lyrics do you think you’ve got stored inside your memory?
Well, go to a Billy Joel concert and you’re sure to have unlocked the words to more than two and a half hours of storage space. Even my husband, who plays piano and owns numerous Joel songbooks, was shocked at how many of the songs I knew – including all the words to Scenes from an Itailian Restaurant, which Joel did as his third encore – at 10:30pm. Now if that time does indicate “geezer rock,” I don’t know what does. But it’s still rock n’ roll to me.
The occasion was our son’s Chanuka gift of an event with just mom and dad. We had first row seats right next to the floor and although we had to settle for supper at the bar of the Hyatt hotel because absolutely every other place was beyond packed and we hadn’t made reservations (though we bumped into at least two couples we knew who outsmarted us on that front), it didn’t really matter.
Cleveland was crawling, crawling with people – for the Indians’ game (which they lost) and the Christina Aguilera concert at the Convocation Center. I was pleased to fit into jeans I haven’t worn in almost a year (just three pounds to go before I can buy clothes for the bar mitzvah) and my husband assured me I was the hottest middle-aged women in the sold-out arena. We even did the bump – though artificial hips might have been safer.
Our son got the full treatment which, in my book, includes a big, huge, hulking, loud, vulgar-speaking drunk dude demanding that another patron sit down, to the point of pushing a bunch of chairs down and scaring the bewhoosis out of me. Try screaming your lungs out for security during a concert – even Billy Joel. The Q guys had just scolded some guy for jumping over the section to get to the bathroom, but there I was waving my arms and screaming with about eight other people because of the physical fight going on next to me and no one, NO ONE came for at least a full one to two minutes – that’s a long time in enclosed venue drunken brawl time.
Eventually, one by one, the individuals involved got taken away and then two of them returned. Charges were pressed against the loud dude and the others got taken to front, front row seats. Maybe I should let someone bully me like that…err, not.
My son? He was insulated from it all – two seats away from me next to my husband. Sure sure – put the lady next to the insolent belligerent beer drinkers.
It’s hard to realize that when I was a teen going to concerts, the smell of pot permeated the arenas the way smoke now fills the entrance ways from sidewalks into foyers of nearly all establishments downtown. And when someone did light up a cigarette in the Q, you could smell it immediately and expected the person would be found and tossed.
But back to Billy – you know, for a 60 year old married to a 23 year old (must be a Geraldo thing), he did great – absolutely great. Energy, improvising (lousy sound problems in the beginning) and entertaining – he totally entertained – by talking to us, by playing games with the audience, by personalizing the show to Cleveland, by being informal and trying to be as intimate as you can be with 20K folks. My son loved it – and I told him it might be all down hill for the rest of his life! What a mom.
Every time I would try to catalogue a moment that I knew I’d want to write about, there was another. How cool is that?
So let’s see –
Well, the fact that he did Italian Restaurant was huge. I love that song. But he did Zanzibar, Vienna, She’s Always a Woman, Moving Out (which he dedicated to Imus!), My Life, The Entertainer, Piano Man (one of the encores), Pressure, Allentown, River of Dreams, Innocent Man, Everybody Loves You Now (inspired by his first ex-wife), It’s Still Rock n’ Roll to Me, New York State of Mind, Only the Good Die Young, We Didn’t Start the Fire and You May Be Right. The PD doesn’t have a review out so I’m not sure I caught everything (those reviews often do) but is that an amazing greatest hits list, or what? [minor update: Joel opened with exuberant Angry Young Man]
It was awesome, dude, like, totally awesome.
OH – last highlight: some roadie named Chainsaw came out and did AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and he was fantastic! It was just a really great night.
Now I’m going to take a nap.
The tune in the title: Big Shot.