Billy Joel (Amalie Arena - Tampa, FL) - 1/22/16

Tag: Rock

In 1974, Billy Joel released “The Entertainer,” a cynical take on fame and the fickleness of fan loyalty. In the opening verse he sings, “I may have won your hearts/But I know the game, you'll forget my name/And I won't be here in another year/If I don't stay on the charts.”

Those lines ring true for most musicians, but not Joel. He hasn't charted since the mid-'90s, but that's beside the point. His performance at the Amalie Arena on Friday night served only to strengthen his memory in the minds of 20,000 fans as he showed Tampa what entertainment really looks like. Joel performed an amazing two and a half hour set which seemed like a non-stop greatest hits collection.

Billy Joel's entrance was preceded by a wondrous instrumental culled from what could have been an epic Spielbergian adventure. Once he took his seat on the rotating piano, Joel fiddled with a few notes on the piano before blasting into “My Life.” For the remainder of the evening, Joel weaved his way through his discography with classics like “Pressure,” “This Is the Time,” “Moving Out (Anthony’s Song),” “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” “She's Always a Woman,” and “River of Dreams.”

Joel paid tribute to “a great musician who’s not with us anymore, David Bowie,” with a brief, but electric ride through Rebel Rebel. And in honor of Eagles singer Glenn Frey, he interrupted River of Dreams for a free-wheeling ride through Take It Easy, and elsewhere delivered a full, solo, heartfelt Desperado.

Before each song, Joel would name the album it appeared on and was mostly successful in recalling the dates of their debuts. Since he hasn't released a new pop album of original work since 1993, any concert he does these days is a retrospective. His identifying of time and place weren't so much about his own career; they were used more as a point of reference for us.

This second half of the his show was more straightforward, with its wall-to-wall structure of continuous greatest hits. It was like an entirely new concert.

For the encore, he left the comfort of his piano and danced with the microphone nearly the entire time. He brought out the big guns such as “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” and “Only the Good Die Young.” He traded in for a guitar on “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and, under pink lighting, flexed, posed, and generally enjoyed the silly doo-wop energy of “Uptown Girl.” At 66, Joel is still full of so much vigor and wasn't shy about indulging in kooky gestures and gyrations.

Speaking of classic rock, Joel thrilled the crowd with spirited covers of the Beatles' “Hard Day's Night” and three Led Zeppelin tracks: “Fool in the Rain,” “Good Times, Bad Times,” and “Dazed and Confused.”

The last song of the night you would expect to be the “Piano Man.” However, for this performance, Joel decided to change things up, and finish the night performing “Uptown Girl.” This had all the audience singing and dancing as the night came to an end.

Joel gave a performance that made every person in the audience leave with a big smile on their face as they saw a true entertainer perform. There are very few artists that can truly entertain like Joel does. He leaves everyone wanting more. We hope Joel will continue to entertain for many more years.

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