A couple of Fridays ago, Corinne and I went to see Billy Joel play at Minute Maid Park. Seeing the legendary New York singer-songwriter in person was something of a bucket list item for both of us. It was our first time seeing a concert at the baseball stadium as well.
Billy Joel obviously has a considerable repertoire, and he managed to fit his biggest hits into the two-hour-long concert, including "Just The Way You Are," "The Longest Time," "My Life," "You May Be Right," "Uptown Girl," "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," and, of course, "Piano Man." Several songs of his that I'm less familiar with, such as "The Entertainer," "Pressure," "Allentown" and the epic "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" also made the setlist.
I was hoping to hear "I Go To Extremes" while Corinne was looking forward to hearing "The Downeaster Alexa." Neither song made the setlist, unfortunately; in fact, the only track off Storm Front was his Boomer history lesson that everyone claims to hate but can still sing along to, "We Didn't Start The Fire." (Joel needs to release an updated version of that song that captures all the crazy shit that's happened over the past eight years or so, and title it "This Is A Dumpster Fire.")
In addition to his own music, Joel sprinkled his performance with covers from The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen (who, like Joel, was born in 1949), and ZZ Top. His guitarist, who has some considerable vocal talent of his own, treated the audience to a rendition of the Italian aria "Nessun Dorma," and Joel's percussionist (who also had impressive vocal skills) spliced "Dancing in the Street" into the middle of "River of Dreams."Allowing members of his band to take over a couple of songs gave Joel a chance to rest his vocal cords, although he continued playing the piano the entire time. All in all, pretty good enegy for a 73-year-old man.
It's worth remembering that Joel has not put out a new album since 1993 - almost 30 years. Yet he's still such a legend that he can fill a 40-thousand seat baseball stadium with his fans.
That said, I'm not sure Minute Maid Park is going to become a preferred concert venue for me. The acoustics were fine, but a venue that large means that you don't have a great view of the person performing unless you want to pay the big bucks for the field seats. Billy Joel's stage was set up in deep center field, while most of the audience sat in the stadium's seating area. The distance was considerable; being in the 400 level on the first base side, Joel was little more than a dot to our eyes. The big screens were partially obscured by speakers and other equipment as well. I wish I hadn't forgotten my binoculars.
However, the bottom line is that my wife and I finally got to see Billy Joel live, and had a great time.
The concert setlist is here, while the Houston Press's concert review is here.