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Billy Joel Wows ‘Em At UMass-Lowell

Billy Joel has played hundreds of 900-seat rooms, many back in the 1960s when the then-unknown was rocking the Long Island circuit. But last night the piano man returned to a tiny room for a thrilled crowd at University of Massachusetts at Lowell’s intimate Durgin Hall.

Billed as “an evening of questions and answers … and a little music,” the event was one of just three college appearances for Joel this fall – the others were at Cornell University and the University of Connecticut.

He dueted with students – “Piano Man” turned into a piano lesson, but “Leningrad” was awesome. He did impersonations like a Borscht Belt regular – his Bob Dylan, Elton John and Ronald Reagan were spot on. But mostly he took questions from students born after Joel’s last No. 1 hit (“We Didn’t Start the Fire,” 1989). His answers where honest, funny and deeply self-deprecating.