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Billy Joel and Elton John Concert Review – Nashville, TN 5/16/09 (BLOG)

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    Written by James Downing

    The Elton John and Billy Joel Face 2 Face Tour rolled into Nashville’s Sommet Center Saturday night, May 16th, 2009, and what a show it was. A few minutes after 7:30 PM, two large floor panels in the huge stage started to open and up rose two grand pianos.  The sold out crowd rose to it’s feet as The Piano Man himself, Billy Joel, strolled out from the right side of the stage. Shortly followed came Capt. Fantastic, Sir Elton John, from the left side. They met in the middle of the stage and greeted each other and then took their seats behind their keyboards.

    Neither one of the legends wasted anytime giving the fans what they wanted. Elton started the show with “Your Song“, which is one of the all time favorites.  His voice sounded just as good as it did when he first recorded this song 30 years ago. It then became dueling Piano Men as Billy Joel broke into “Just The Way You Are“.  Each superstar took turns doing a song. This set consisted of two other songs, Elton’s “Dont Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and Billy’s “My Life“.   At this time Billy left the stage and left it all to Elton.

    The stage had a riser behind the pianos for each singers band. Elton’s band rose up out of the stage just as the pianos did.  It was very nice to see two familar faces in Eltons band, Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olson.  Davey had also played with Alice Cooper and Meatloaf.  Nigel had a small solo hit in the 70′s with a couple of songs called “A Little Bit Of Soap” and “Dancing Shoes“. Both of these musicans have been with Elton since the early days and it was good to see them still together.

    At this point Billy left the stage and Elton did his solo set.  I often wonderd how someone with as many hits as Elton John, chooses what songs to perform live.  He started out with a song from the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding“.  The audience rose to its feet again as he belted out the rocking hit song, “Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting“.  The next two songs, “Burn Down The Mission” and “Madman Across The Water” had the crowd resting after the previous rocker.  It would had been better to have heard more upbeat hits like, “Pin Ball Wizard” or “Philadelphia Freedom“.  He mentioned a couple of celebrities in audience, Brenda Lee and Leon Russell, then dedicated a song to Brenda.  The rest of the set consisted of “Tiny Dancer“, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road“, “Daniel“, “Rocket Man“, “Levon”, “I’m Still Standing” and another favorite of mine “Crocodile Rock“.

    Elton John then turned the stage over to Billy Joel. Elton’s band disappeared into the stage as Billy’s band rose up out of the stage.  The set list was made up of hit after hit. Starting with “Angry Young Man“, then “Movin’ Out“.  Billy seemed to be a little more talkative than Elton.  He was joking with the audience saying that he was actually his dad (as he did on his last Nashville concert).  He said he knew all of Billy songs and he just wanted to take his place.  He also told the people behind the stage that they actually had a good seat and how the people to his back would soon find out that they had good seats also.  During the next song, “Allentown“, the piano did a 180 and he was facing the sections that was behind him.  This happened several times during the show so everyone had a great view at some point.  Billy also talked about how glad he was to be back in Nashville.  He mentioned playing at the Exit/Inn (those were the days) and opening for Olivia Newton John and called it the Lenny Bruce Meets Snow White Tour (Believe it or not I was at that show. I guess that shows my age. HA!!! ).  ”Zanzibar” was next followed by “Don’t Ask Me Why“. Billy then mention how he had saw a band in New York that just blew him away in the 60′s called The Young Rascals. Lead singer Felix Cavallari was back stage and came out and played “Good Lovin’“.  That was really a treat!  Billy slowed it down a little with “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” and “River Of Dreams“.  The tempo went back up for “We Didn’t Start The Fire“.  Next he grabbed a guitar for “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me“.  He closed his solo set with “Only The Good Die Young“.

    Elton John returned to the stage for the final set of the night.  It started with “I Guess That’s Why The Call It The Blues“.  Billy Joel draped a towel over his head for “Uptown Girl“. “The Bitch Is Back” was next from Elton and Billy kept on rocking with “You May Be Right“.  Then it was Elton’s turn with “Bennie & The Jets“.  Two Beatle songs followed, “Birthday” and “Back In The USSR“.  The night ended with “Candle In The Wind” and “Piano Man“.

    The whole concert was 15 minutes short of 4 hours.  The tickets were a bit pricey but I don’t think anyone left feeling they didn’t get their money’s worth.  Neither of these men had a new album out to promote and it truly looked like they were having a wonderful time playing together.  It was really interesting to hear them swap up on verses of each other’s songs.  It is not very often you get to see two music icons on the same stage.  This is one of those shows that I will remember for a long time.

    Written By James Downing

    If you would like to write a review for Concert Blast!, send us an email with your idea (concertblast @  We can’t get you in the show and there’s no pay, but you get your work (and name) published on our website.  All reviews will be edited for length and clarity.


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      18 Replies

      1. Gina Deakins May 20th 2009

        Great review! It was just like you said. One great performance after another! Truly a night to remember for a lifetime!

      2. Margie May 20th 2009

        What a wonderful review. I hate that I missed the show,even more now that I have read your review.

      3. Fantastic review! What a magical night it was! Thanks for putting it all into words.

      4. Hey James, interesting review. I was supposed to be at this show. Had tickets in-hand, then my first born’s arrival date was too close to the show date, so we had to sell them. But, I’ve seen this show 3 times in the past 15 years (mainly just wanted to take my wife who’s never seen either of them).

        These two guys are absolutely two of the best, ever.

        Elton’s “Burn Down the Mission” and “Madman Across the Water” are (in my opinion) two of his best songs. I understand maybe not completely appropriate if you’ve never seen Elton live. But those are amazing songs.

        Glad you were able to go. I’m jealous.

        John Clore

        James Reply:

        Hey John,

        Congrats on the new born. I missed Elton once because of child birth myself. I agree Burn Down The Mission and Madman are great songs. Just not my personal favorites.

        I had seen both Elton and Billy many times but this was the first time together. A wonderful show.


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      9. Thanks for the nice review! I’m going to this show soon and was looking for a set list. This was way better! :-)

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      14. Martha Thomson Jul 19th 2010

        Elton John is actually a living legend, what a great musical artist he is.-,’

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