Philadelphia, PA • March 13, 2006
Fans of all ages walked towards the entrance. Anticipation hung in the air, as people entered the Wachovia Center, anxious to see the one and only Billy Joel as The Piano Man returned to Philly for the third of five sold-out shows.
At 8:30 p.m., Billy Joel took the stage, welcomed by thunderous applause and cheering. He began to play, accompanied by several other musicians. The first portion of the show seemed to drag a bit, as he played more of his slower songs from his various CDs.
However, the show began to pick up after a half hour. Songs on the set list included crowd favorites such as “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Captain Jack,” “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” “The Entertainer” and “Allentown,” as well as various others.
After two hours of playing, Joel decided to torment the audience by walking off the stage without playing THE song – “Piano Man.” The crowd chanted his name, pleading with him to come back. When he took the stage again, the crowd urged him towards the ebony grand piano that stood on the stage. He acted indecisive, as if he couldn’t decide whether to sit and play or leave. The crowd played along, cheering and booing, respectively.
Finally, after a good several minutes, Joel sat himself down, and for the encore of the show, he played three songs. They included “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant,” “Only the Good Die Young” and of course, to the delight of the audience, “Piano Man.” During the last song, all that could be seen were the dim lights of cell phones, as people recorded the song and called others, allowing them a taste of the experience.
To be honest, I was surprised at several things. First was the age gap. I mean, I know I grew up with Billy Joel’s music – but to see so many young people there was astonishing. It truly was a show for all ages. Second, I was surprised by the Piano Man’s humor. Yes, humor. As he talked to the audience in between songs, his jokes and antics were actually funny. It was quite unexpected, but a very pleasant surprise. I was also amazed by how spontaneous he was. He spoke what was on his mind and played what he wanted, claiming “No. No. I don’t want that one. I want to play this ONE.”
It was a great show, even with the little bit of technical errors. When one of the members of his band struck the wrong chord, Joel exclaimed, “See? We don’t lip synch. That was a real rock n’ roll f***-up.”
From the ceiling of the Wachovia Center, a flag of orange and black hangs. On it is Billy Joel’s name and 41 – the number of shows he’s sold out in Philadelphia. After the five shows this year are over, the number will officially be 46 – not bad, considering it has been several years since he released an album.
Overall, the Entertainer lived up to the crowd’s expectations. They walked away, pleased to have spent the evening with their favorite piano man.
Billy Joel: http://www.sonymusic.com/artists/BillyJoel/ ◼