Friday, October 27, 2006

Billy Joel - Johannesburg 26 October 2006

Concert Review – Billy Joel does Randburg, South Africa.

OK, he’s an old master, no denying. He admits himself that we’re 25 years too late. “25 years ago I was sh!t hot, but now you’re just going to have to take what’s left of me.” And that’s what we got. Good fun, a great jazzy backing band and some tried and tested, well worn songs sung in a well-worn comfortable voice. He has maybe dropped a key or two during some numbers but it hardly detracts.

This is the same show that sold out Madison Square Gardens for 12 consecutive nights in January 2006. Here is a good well informed review if you like the technical side of things. I quote part of it:

"All in all, the show did not disappoint. It was as nostalgic as I hoped it would be, but not in that awkward, "wow, things have really gone downhill" way that I had feared. With a few exceptions, Billy Joel and his band sounded fantastic and put on a high energy, entertaining show. Yes, he shuffles around the stage instead of running, and stops for a swig of water between every song (and occasionally during someone else's solo). But no one else in the world can make that music sound that good, and on the whole, I'm glad he's still doing it. Bravo, Billy, and thanks for the memories."

Self-deprecating, especially when singing out the tried and tested sing-alongs. He lets the crowd do the choruses. He did look a bit bored at times. But who wouldn’t be with the same songs for 30 years? He’s done it all before but he perks up the interest by throwing in some lesser known songs and giving the band members a chance to put in solid solo efforts, especially the trumpeter & sax players. And he seems to be really enjoying himself.

Then all of a sudden the place is roaring to AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”. But it’s not Billy Joel singing, it’s one of his roadies aka Chainsaw. The guy has a serious belly of jelly, barely restrained by his T-Shirt and such that I’m sure he hasn’t seen his nether regions for at least a decade. But hell old Chainsaw can sing and gets the crowd going, and imagine the kudos of having Joel on supporting guitar. The Australians are going to love him on the next leg of the tour.

Joel is at his best when he is attacking the piano keys. He thumps a mighty tune from the black & whites with his fingers mainly, but also with his elbows, feet and even for a moment his arse.

And yes, he does finally sing the Piano Man. (well the audience sings it really).

A thoroughly good evening out, worth dealing with traffic (to which BJ quipped that it seemed worse than his native New York). I’m well glad I went, even if it was 25 years too late.


Christie Lee said...


Glad you enjoyed the show.
Question... Do you happen to have the setlist??
I'd love to know what songs were pleyed!


ATW said...

Hi Christie, Sorry don't have the exact setlist . It was pretty similar to the setlist played at the last gigs which can be found on the keyboardists (Dave Rosenthal) site.

The setlists are here although the latest isn't up yet.

David said...

You got a BJ in the traffic?

It is the question said...


I went on Thursday which was sold out pretty soon after opening for booking.

Awesome show. One of the two best I've seen (the other was Depeche Mode). And I've seen tonnes.

I was blown away at the quality of Billy Joel's performance - he still manages to hit a few of those high notes and packed in 2 and a half hours.

I almost lost my voice as a result.

Crazy traffic after the show - 2 hours!!

ATW said...

IITQ - it was a great show - Traffic was worse for RWilliams..Next time I must remember to pack a sixpack & skottel for after the show.

Brian said...

Glad you enjoyed my review. I enjoyed yours as well. A pretty accurate description of what I saw here in New York, except that in Madison Square Garden, I don't think you could ever really describe him as "bored." That's probably the magic of the hometown, New York crowd at work, though.

Anyway, his new single has been released at Here's my blog entry about it, including a link to the song:

Check it out!