The flashlights lit up like stars in the sky, swaying joyfully as Billy Joel belted out “Piano Man” at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 13, 2017.
The enamored audience sang along and, yes, I was fortunate to be one of them.
“It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday,” Billy Joel sang in the middle of the performance and we roared for the acknowledgement.
The concert included many of the classic Billy Joel songs from my teen years. The two-and-a-half hour concert began with “Movin’ Out” from Joel’s 1977’s “The Stranger” album and went on to include “My Life,” “She’s Always a Woman,” “The Longest Time,” and “Vienna.” The 68-year-old can still hit and hold every high note, never wavering.
If that wasn’t enough, surprise guests Pink and Axl Rose showed up much to our delight. Pink was up first, adding her powerful vocals in a duet of “New York State of Mind” and then belted out her own stirring song, “Try,”
Later, much to the audience’s shock, Joel introduced Rose for a rowdy rendition of “Highway to Hell ” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Rose also sneaked onstage one last time during Joel’s encore performance to sing “Big Shot,” with Joel chiming in during the choruses.
In some easygoing banter, Billy Joel reminisced about his days in LA early in his career struggling to find success at the piano bar that would be the inspiration for his signature song, Piano Man.
“So this is where the Dodgers ended up?” he asked, looking around Dodger Stadium. “They used to play at Ebbets Field. Then they left and I became a freakin’ Yankees fan.”
The crowd booed and Joel grinned. He acknowledged how different it was to playing a massive stadium after those early days when he played at bars around Hollywood Hills, Studio City and eventually the Troubadour.
Humbly, with self-depreciation, Joel confessed the many geographical and historical mistakes in “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” and called “Allentown” an “authentic rock and roll” error. “I was still living here when I wrote this song,” he said introducing “The Entertainer.” “I was wrong when I wrote it, I was cynical. But I like to do this one because it reminds me what an annoying person I was.”
Joel paid tribute to artists singing “Take It Easy” by the Eagles and Randy Newman’s “The Natural.” Each member of the band was also given a moment to shine, including Carl Fischer on the trumpet, saxophonist and backing vocalist Mark Rivera, and the magnificent vocals of Mike DelGuidice whose voice soared on the Puccini aria “Nessun dorma.”
The encore included well-known hits like “Uptown Girl,” “Only the Good Die Young,” and “You May Be Right” which had all of us on our feet dancing and belting out the choruses.
We were “all in the mood for a melody” and Joel delivered as our piano man. “You’ve got us feeling’ alright.”
Thanks to my son, Jonathan Gorges, for the photos.