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On Thursday, the 29th, we went to see Billy Joel in concert. We haven't been to many rock concerts-just Sting a few years ago, and if you want to count him due to the number of rock songs he parodies, Weird Al back in September. That's it. Still, it gave some preparation-for example when our seats were moved and we had to go to Guest Services to get our new tickets, when we saw ear plugs, we grabbed some.

First off, I'll admit I wasn't feeling well and probably had too high of expectations. Keeping that in mind, the concert was not nearly as good as I'd hoped it would be. Billy Joel has not respected his body and has treated it, particularly his voice, harshly, and it showed. He looks much older than my dad or Eric's dad, who are around the same age, and he had to key down most, if not all, of his songs so he could actually sing them with the less-than-fabulous voice he has now.

Additionally, I do not appreciate how he, his band, the cameramen, and some of the audience acted. The cameramen kept showing the freaking audience. I didn't just pay tons of money to have to watch the obnoxious audience, I wanted to see Billy Joel and his band! There were girls crowding up around stage that had low enough shirts that their cleavage was extremely obvious even from our nosebleed seats. One of these actually flashed the stage (the cameras were too slow to catch most of it, though they did show her fixing her top after doing so on the jumboscreen). Some of the band would deliberately go up to the front of the stage and the girls would paw them. Near the end, Billy Joel went up to the front too and deliberately let them grope him front and back.

I find this so disrespectful and degrading to the audience, the men, and their significant others, especially since I know Billy Joel has a girlfriend/wife. There's no reason to ever go around groping someone in public (hear that, Eric? :P), especially not a stranger. And to deliberately let yourself be groped? Even worse. And I thought the girls at the Sting concert who kept holding up a sign to tell this 50-something man to take off his shirt were bad. He ignored them and didn't go up to the front of the stage and the audience didn't crowd close like that. I think Sting had a lot more class.

For some reason, he had one of his crew members come on and do a rendition of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell." I don't know whether it was good or not, as you'd have to pay me to listen to AC/DC, but I know it was irritating to have time taken up that I'd rather have had taken up by, you guessed it, the person I paid to see.

For a couple more petty complaints, the only song he played that's on my favorites list, and is rather low at that, was "River of Dreams." Also, audience, I'm okay with singing during choruses or when the singer is encouraging you to. The rest of the time, shut up. I'm not paying to hear you drown out the person I came to see.

Okay, enough with the complaints. I was simply in awe of Billy Joel's piano playing. I had no idea that he was that good. Listening to a piece when you're not a pianist yourself doesn't necessarily convey how complicated the music actually is, and when it's studio recorded, there's no proof that the artist is actually doing it himself. Well, now that I've seen it in person, I know Billy Joel definitely does it himself. He's incredible. Now I just can't figure out why he didn't play for his classical CD, because dude, he so could have done it.

He was very personable and cracked a bunch of jokes at the start. He had some throat spray that he said he was using because of the altitude. He noted he had seen Madonna use it, though he didn't know if it had helped her. He made a couple other cracks at her throughout the concert as well. He also made cracks about his increasing baldness and his face. Best of all was when he played "The Entertainer," and during the first line that talks about "another long-haired band," he ran his hand over his nearly-hairless head.

Eric said he took his ear plugs out during the encore and things sounded better, but I think I'm going into a fibro flare and I'm very sensitive to stimulation right now, so I'm very glad I kept them in. The time when the concert started and when Eric was trying to talk to me was more than enough to make me grateful I wasn't destroying my hearing.

During "Still Rock and Roll to me," he exhibited another talent-that for twirling mike stands. It was really cool. I don't have much more to say about it, but the mental images that came when Eric reminded me of the song are pleasant.

Now for the list of songs I remember hearing him play. Hopefully Eric can correct or add to the list as needed: "My Life," "Big Shot," "The Entertainer," "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," "New York State of Mind," "Vienna (which I didn't know but liked)," "Everybody Loves You Now (which I didn't know and didn't like)", "Piano Man," "We Didn't Start the Fire," "River of Dreams," "Movin' Out," "The Ballad of Billy the Kid," "Only the Good Die Young," "Still Rock and Roll to Me," "Allentown," "Zanzibar," "She's Always a Woman," "You May be Right," "Don't Ask Me Why," and "C'etait toi (You Were the One)."

So the concert was full of mostly really old songs. Overall, it was good, but not great or excellent, and I didn't walk away loving him even more like I did with Sting. I'm glad I went, because I would have regretted it forever if I haven't, but neither am I going to feel the overwhelming urge to go next time he's around. Sting, however, is welcome to come back anytime.

October 2012

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