Live Review: Billy Joel Rocks On Opening Night - Rolling Stone
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Live Review: Billy Joel Rocks On Opening Night

Covers “Tubthumping” at Long Island show

When an artist tours without a new album to support, he can do one
of two things: Simply crank out the hits, or try something
different. Billy Joel, kicking off his ’98 North American tour
Thursday night at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum, managed to do

Supported by a fine eight-piece band, Billy pumped out a
seemingly endless stream of crowd-pleasing hits [“We Didn’t Start
the Fire,” “River of Dreams,” “Movin’ Out”], while sprinkling the
set with some well chosen, long-lost classics. In fact, Joel set up
a website where fans can vote for songs they want to hear during
this tour.

Joel’s idea, he says, is to keep the shows from being “business
as usual.” He largely succeeded, pulling out wild cards like
“Summer Highland Falls” (from 1974’s Turnstiles album) and
1976’s “Everybody Has A Dream,” a song he’d never attempted live

Obviously delighted to be back onstage after a four-year
absence, Joel played to the hometown crowd, mentioning local
landmarks and reminiscing about his high school days. One such
story led to one of the night’s high points — an a capella
rendition of “The Longest Time,” intro’d by a medley of doo wop
classics like “Duke of Earl.”

Overall, the Piano Man played the evening fast and loose, doing
an impromptu rendition of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” on the
accordion and even dedicating “Big Man on Mulberry Street” to
“fellow Long Islander” Howard Stern as a birthday gift.

Joel closed out the set with “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”
(the website’s No. 1 request), plus some unexpected encores:
“Captain Jack” and “Miami 2017.”

Joel had recently announced his intention to switch to classical
music, but except for playing a few bars of Beethoven’s “Ode To
Joy” Thursday night, he proved that as far as live shows go, it’s
still rock ‘n’ roll for him.


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