The music business today is full of what people want to hear. Songs played on the radio are generally what people want to hear, and music videos shown on VH-1 and MTV are what people want to see. So it's certainly not uncommon for the average fan to expect songs he/she wants to hear at a concert. Normally, an entertainer would completely oblige. But when Billy Joel walked on the stage last Tuesday in Buffalo, it was clear he wasn't just performing the hits.
Billy Joel has released a grand total of one new pop song since his last album in 1993, so it seems as though touring is what Joel is giving to his fans. Twelve albums of all original songs is definitely plenty of material to change the pace every once in a while. However, recent tours with Elton John made this task more challenging. But now that Joel is back touring on his own, he combined the hits with a few "skeletons."
Joel kept things lighthearted the entire evening, joking that he was "Billy's dad just warming up the crowd." He joked that the floor seats shouldn't be classified as the best because two tons of lights were right above them hanging only by wires. He made half-joking thank yous to the people in the cheap seats because he "needed the money." Throughout the evening Joel also made cracks about his age, his weight and his lack of hair. No stranger to Buffalo, Joel reminisced about playing at venues such as Fredonia State College and Kleinhans Music Hall over the years.
As for the set-list, there was a little something for everyone. Joel played at least one song from 11 of his albums. The people who came to see the hits were satisfied as Joel delivered usual favorites including "Allentown," "Movin' Out" and "We Didn't Start the Fire." People like me who came not only to see the hits were more than satisfied as well. Joel pulled songs such as "Everybody Loves You Now," "Miami 2017" and "Zanzibar" from his catalog. Joel even gave the crowd an opportunity to pick a song, which ended up being "Vienna."
The musicianship of Joel's band was phenomenal. The three-person horn section played everything from the flugelhorn to the flute. Tough solos in songs such as "Zanzibar" and "Angry Young Man" were played exactly as heard on the original track. The only bizarre moment in the show was when a roadie came out and performed "Highway to Hell," which left some screaming for more, but some screaming "Why?"
This show was certainly worth the price of admission and the crowd was left wanting more and more. Joel provided a great show for generations of fans, leaving visions of the piano man dancing in their heads.
Patrick Hyzy is a freshman at St. Joseph's Collegiate