Friday night, July 18th, the city of Chicago was alive as the beautiful 80degree weather with a lakefront breeze drew people out. Luckily enough, I was able to plan my evening scratching off one huge item off my bucket list, seeing Billy Joel live.
As Billy Joel fans swarmed Wrigleyville, many without tickets still packed blankets and coolers and parked themselves on the streets to hear the talented artist sing to Chicago.
Billy Joel; better known as ‘The Piano Man’, is one of the highest grossing touring artists in the world who can now add another title under his name as the only artist who has ever headlined Wrigley Field twice. His last performance in Wrigley was while on tour with Elton John.
Opening for Billy was New York based rock artist, Gavin DeGraw. After his performance and only a short intermission, the field lights went out and the stage lit up!
65year old Billy Joel, sporting a black suit enters the stage, strapping on his electric guitar and starts the evening off with “Matter of Trust”, one of his biggest hits in 1986.
Following songs were “Pressure” and “Movin’ Out” (Anthony’s Song).
Billy now stops to speak to the crowd, throwing in some comical sarcasm as he states that the last time he was at Wrigley, he was with “That other guy”, referring to his tour with Elton John. Then he leads into a teaser playing the first verse of Elton Johns hit, “Your Song” then stops and says …“And all that other bullshit”, leaving the crowd laughing.
Billy’s stage set up has a grand piano that rotates and the screen comes alive with cubes of keyboard images as we watch his fingers intricately play each key of hit after hit.
As he continues, his performance of “Innocent Man” surely shows that the 65year old can stand the test of time as each high note was hit without fail.
Being in Wrigley Field, The piano Man kept it in theme as he had the crowd chanting the unofficial North American baseball anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, a song that definitely made you embrace the venue we were all at for the evening.
The statement song of the evening was “The Entertainer”, a song from 30years ago with cynical lyrics giving a glimpse of the fleeting fame of a musician. A song Billy probably wrote never anticipating the legend he has become today.
Rumor has it that Billy never likes to play the same set list twice and he proved it by mixing things up a bit and throwing out crowd choices for the fans. The toss up was between “This is the Time” or “Vienna”, with a hands-down down Vienna win.
“Zanzibar” is a song particularly notable for the jazz trumpet breaks, was performed beautifully with an amazing trumpet solo by Carl Fischer.
“New York State of Mind”, “Sometimes a Fantasy” and many other hits such as “She’s Always a Woman”, “Allentown”, “My Life” and many others followed.
Noting earlier that Billy likes to mix it up a bit, Billy then introduced us to one of his roadies he calls “Chainsaw”. Billy says that Chainsaw would like to come out and sing us a Christian song. As Billy straps on his electric guitar, he joins right in jammin’ with Chainsaw as the roadie sings a cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”, the complete opposite of a Christian song, which had the crowd going crazy.
Other hits throughout the evening were “Don’t Ask Me Why”, ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’, ‘Piano Man’ and ‘Uptown Girl’. He spiced up his ‘River of Dreams’ song by adding in segments of Sinatra’s hit, “My Kind of Town’.
Over all it was a beautiful evening with a fantastic crowd and a legendary Piano Man taking us back in time to many of our favorite hits.
One of the things I appreciate from Billy is his way to bring you into his world with his music. Although I was at a baseball field, there were times when I felt I was having a romantic evening on the borderline in Vienna, he had me in a New York state of mind and other times, I felt like I was a Chicagoan Uptown Girl.
Billy had a fabulous performance and although I was able to cross off seeing the Piano Man live from my bucket list, I’m thinking of re-adding him back on that list for a second time around.
Review by: Sheri Archambeau Knowles
Photos by: John Affinito/Flys Photography
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