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Billy Joel Concert Review – Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN

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    Posted on 4/12/2014

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    It was a festive Friday night in Nashville, TN as Billy Joel returned to the Music City to perform another one of his arena-filled, hit-filled, concerts at the large Bridgestone Arena. Concert Blast was sent an email to cover this show on the morning of the concert. Billy Joel’s staff provided two excellent seats to the concert as well as a photo pass. Mike Arnold agreed to write the review while our photographer friend, Sam Shrader took the photos.  Enjoy the coverage!

     

     

    Written by Mike Arnold
    The downtown area of Nashville, TN was very crowded with Billy Joel fans trying their best to find parking spots and rush to the arena to catch one of the best pop/rock music icons of all time. Everyone was in a festive mood. People were laughing, singing, and dancing all the way to the entrance of the arena. The excitement outside the arena was almost as exciting as the atmosphere on the inside. By the time my wife (Sandra) and I arrived to the arena, I went to say hello to our photographer for the night, Sam Shrader. I ran into our arena contact, Hannah Foster, who informed me that Sam was already in the photo pit taking pics of the opening act. I had no idea that Billy Joel had an opening act, but since we arrived a little late, I was glad he did! Sandra and I went to the Will-Call booth to get our tickets and headed inside the arena to our seats… our 9th row center (second section) floor seats… WOW!

    Billy Joel's StageOnce we got settled in our seats, we began to get into his opening act. He was a piano player/entertainer with a very good, mature looking band. This was the perfect opener for Billy Joel. His name was Jon McLaughlin. We didn’t know any of his songs, but he was a good entertainer with very catchy tunes. Most of the people sitting around us was impressed with his concert and mentioned that there were definitely going to purchase his CD. As we were leaving for the night I looked to see if he had a booth selling music and other merchandise, but I didn’t see one. However, I do suggest you look him up and take a listen to his music. I did and found a couple of my favorite songs from the night, “Why I’m Talking To You” and “Promising Promises

    After about a 20 minute set change, Billy Joel and his band took the stage to the approval of the Sold-Out arena. Billy waved to the crowd, sat down at his piano, took a few sips from his coffee cup, that read “Billy Joel In Concert”, and then began to play the opening number of the night, “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)”. This sounded good and the New York City Skyline on the large screens above the stage looked good, but it was a slow start for a Billy Joel concert that I wasn’t used to seeing/hearing. There was a short pause after the song before he went into a very familiar upbeat tune that had everyone on their feet, and some trying to run down the aisles, during, “Pressure”. During the middle of this song, the piano slowly turned to face the other side of the arena as it did throughout the evening.

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    Billy Joel paused for a moment to reflect on his career and how he used to come to Nashville to play at the Exit In during his early years. I never got the chance to see him perform there, but Sandra and I have seen him perform at the older and smaller arena, the Municipal Auditorium, along at our beloved long-gone amphitheater, Starwood Amphitheater. Once Billy finished reminiscing, he continued his show with another favorite, “The Entertainer”.

    Throughout his tour, I saw many set lists with various cover songs placed in the beginning of the set. Instead of treating the Nashville crowd with a cover song, he decided to perform a song that he’s only performed a few times in concert. As Billy said, “Here’s a song that Garth Brooks made famous.” as he began “Shameless”. Everyone around us, including Sandra and me, was looking for Garth Brooks to take the stage, but it never happened.

    Throughout the evening Billy Joel played songs that featured various members of his band. This began with Billy introducing the song that featured one of his horn players as he introduced, “Zanzibar”. Billy continued the show by having a crowd’s choice of either, “Where’s the Orchestra” or “And So It Goes”. The crowd yelled louder for the later and Billy led the band into the song. Immediately when the song ended we heard the very familiar factory whistle which led into the big hit, “Allentown”. Billy continued the performance with a song called, “Stop In Nevada” before going into an instrumental fun piano rag-time song called, “Root Beer Rag”.

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    From this point until the end of the show, Billy Joel was on top of his game as he performed many hits and familiar classics. From time to time he complained about his voice and actually sprayed “Entertainer’s Secret” into his throat to help him get through the night. The large overhead screens displayed the night skyline of New York City which led Billy to perform, “New York State of Mind”. The crowd was very pleased as we gave a long standing ovation at the end of the number. Billy continued by explaining when he wrote and recorded this next song and decided to put it out as a single, but the record company thought that radio wouldn’t play it due to the song being too risque’ (in the 1980s), as he and the band went into “Sometimes A Fantasy”.

    The favorites kept coming as he introduced one from The Stranger album, “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”. Billy continued by saying, “Here’s another one from the same album. If you want sing along, but you must hit the high notes.” Billy began the sing along hit, “She’s Always a Woman”. When the song was over Billy acknowledge the crowd for singing so well and loud by pointing and clapping for the singing.   He said, “Well this is the Music City!” While most of the crowd was on their feet, they stayed on them as he went into the next tune, “Don’t Ask Me Why”.

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    Billy then began to have a little fun with a couple of partial cover songs. He began playing the old tune, “Not Fade Away” (stopping short because he admitted he never knew the words to that song anyway)  and then began playing a solo version of Elton John’s “Your Song”. When Billy sang the line, “I don’t have much money” he stopped and said, “Oh Shut Up!” Everyone laughed as he began telling us a story of how he confronted Elton John about singing that song with a clear conscience. The fun continued with another surprise. Billy and band performed the song, “River of Dreams” (most people believe the song’s title is “In the Middle of the Night”), but in the middle of the song he and the band performed a spot on rocking version of The Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night”… the whole song and then went back to finish “River of Dreams”!

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    According to me and a lot of fans, the best sounding song of the night from the stage and the audience was the next one, “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”. This is a song that sounds like three in one. I’ve always loved it, but watching this performed in concert with a large participating audience is very exciting to experience! The next number was the most popular one of the night, but before really getting into the song, Billy Joel cut up with the crowd.   He strapped on his harmonica neck brace, he said, “When you get my age you need help holding up your head.” Once he had his harmonica in place, he began slowly rolling the piano keys to the opening number of his most popular song, but then he would play several partial goofy upbeat tunes such as “Camptown Lady” and others. After several of these he finally became serious and pleased the crowd by continuing with “Piano Man”. Of course the audience sang this one with all their heart, especially when Billy and his band stopped while the audience took over the lead vocals for a portion of the chorus.

    Billy and his band waved to the crowd and left the stage, but this Nashville, TN audience demanded they return for an encore, or two, or three, or… The opening encore number had Billy Joel with his guitar instead of his piano as he performed, “We Didn’t Start The Fire”.  This was followed by, “Uptown Girl”, followed by a few back to back rockers, “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me”, “Big Shot”, and “You May Be Right”… WOW! What a rockin’ encore! But it still wasn’t over. Billy went to the piano one more time to perform another rocker, “Only The Good Die Young” to close out the night! And what a night it was!

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    Billy Joel In Concert - Nashville, TN

    The overall concert was good, but the last hour of the show was excellent and well worth the price of the ticket! This was a two hour show, but some of the songs in the set list could have been left out of the show or substituted with other familiar songs. As for the Concert Blast scale, because of the slow start, a lot of talking, and a few less popular songs on his set list, I will give Billy Joel an 8.5 (out of a 10.0).
    Suggestions:

    • He had a slow start with “Miami 2017”. If he wanted to start slow, then start with “New York State of Mind” “The Stranger”, or “The Entertainer”, but I believe every show should start off upbeat to get the crowd on their feet immediately.
    • Songs shouldn’t have been on the set list: “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)”, “Zanzibar”, “And So It Goes”, and “Stop In Nevada”.
    • Songs should have been considered to be included on the set list: “The Stranger”, “Goodnight Saigon”, “My Life”, “Vienna”, “The Angry Young Man”, “Billy The Kid”, “Just The Way You Are”, or other more popular songs.
    • Instead of having six encore songs, I would have ended the pre-encore portion of the show with a couple of the rockers.

    Did I enjoy the concert? Definitely! I believe I’ve seen BJ every time he made his way through Nashville, TN since the late 1970s and I don’t plan to stop going to his shows. I suggest you see Billy Joel in concert as well.
    Written by Mike Arnold


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      1. leo matheson Apr 20th 2014

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