Did Billy Joel give us the best concert of the year? This is a guy who, 22 years after his last hit song, has a voice that is still just about as robust on the mic as it was in his prime – and who has fingers that are still just about as nimble on the piano. Look at a song like “River of Dreams,” with a chorus that requires him to go from his highest register to his lowest in a matter of a few words. Nailed it. Or what about that solo toward the end of “Sometimes a Fantasy,” where he has to hammer the keys like an insane person but still produce a melody that sounds coherent? Boom.
At one point, he serenaded the crowd with the chorus of James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind.” At another, he sang the opening lines of the title song from a 1964 Bette Davis movie called “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”
The unequivocal highlight of the night, though, was “Piano Man.” He strapped on the harmonica holder, and the crowd went wild. He tickled the ivories to sound out the famous opening piano bars of the song, and the crowd went wild. He paused. He took several slow, exaggerated breaths, as if to suggest this was going to be a challenge. The crowd went wild. He chuckled. Then he started blowing. … Backed by more than 18,000 fans, Joel sang: “It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday.” It was the understatement of the year.