Billy Joel Live Review & Concert Photos | Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fl | Friday, January 22, 2016

by • February 4, 2016

As legends in the music world get older, we often see a downward spiral due to age, drugs, or any number of reasons we, as human beings, begin to fall apart physically and/or mentally. Fortunately, Billy Joel shows no signs of slowing down and we should all pray to the music gods — and thank them for it.

Playing to a near sold out show at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Billy Joel gave everyone in attendance a show they can be proud to talk about to their friends and family. The age range in the arena was all across the board, from teenagers to retirees. It speaks to the true success that many artists who have seen the spotlight try and fail — Billy Joel’s music is timeless and is something every generation can enjoy.

There are some artists who have been around for a long time that have made their mark, and you just know that they probably should hang up their touring boots and live off of all that they worked so hard for because they deserve it. That, and you don’t want a lack luster performance to tarnish the idea in your head of how good an artist really is, or used to be.

Even though Billy Joel has so many hits and no matter what order they are played, everyone in attendance is just happy to hear them. But the set list was so well crafted that you could feel all the intended “Acts” and “Intermissions” in a seamless order to create the best experience for his audience.

The band opened with “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway).” The sound of Joel’s piano all by itself reverberated through the arena and it felt like a statement from the great artist himself, “I am here. Now I will speak to you the best way I know how.” Then he opened his mouth and belted out the first lyrics of the night. When he began to sing he showed the entire the audience that though he may be 66, but there’s a reason some people have the right to add the word “young” after stating their age.

A smile formed on my face and all the memories I have growing up with my family while listening to all of his wonderful music started to fill my brain. This was the voice that had filled my ears and heart through numerous road trips, happiest of moments, trials and tribulations.

I was comforted in the warm embrace of this icon and one-of-a-kind musician.

Then, the band hit like a ton of bricks to the chest in an ironic twist to the words, “They turned our power down.” Realization hit me that this was going to be one of the best live concerts of my life.

Billy Joel Live Review 2016

Joel likes to play little hints of songs before his own such as the go-to for every beginner piano player “Ode to Joy” before leading into songs like “My Life.” People began move in or out of their seats a little more. After, he began to poke fun of his band because they are now stuck in Florida due to severe weather back home in New York, and then proceeded to play “Everybody Loves You Now.”

For comical moments, Billy Joel offered a few memorable impressions, mentioning the last time he was in the area was with a gentleman named Elton John. He then did his best impression of the other iconic piano player while playing “Your Song,” abruptly ending it when he came to the line “I don’t have much money,” to which Joel exclaimed as “Bullshit!”

Later on in the set, as an intro to “She’s Always a Woman,” Joel did another impression. This time his impression was of Louie Armstrong as he sang “You Are So Beautiful.” How this did not destroy his voice? I have no idea.

A couple times during the night he gave the crowd the choice of which song he would play, “This is the Time” or “Vienna.” The popular ballad from the album The Stranger won with ease and was a nice change of pace following the previously upbeat tempos.

Billy Joel is first and foremost an entertainer. In what almost could be a joke to himself he played a short version of Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer,” before launching into his own song of the same name to which he dedicated it sarcastically to presidential candidate Donald Trump. This was risky business being in Florida. There were clearly some Trump supporters who did not get the joke as they cheered gleefully.

The second crowd choice of the night was between “An Innocent Man” and “The Longest Time.” To nobody’s surprise, the famous acapella hit won with a booming response. To warm up the whole band sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “I Do.” The warmups sounded great and they clearly were already warmed up. When hearing the first note of the song, I heard perfect pitch and unity from the whole group.

Their voices escaped the arena’s speakers as if they were song birds who were finally set free and allowed to fly.

Billy Joel Live Review 2016

Memories of the music icons we most recently lost were clearly on the minds of Joel and the rest of the band. We were treated with a portion of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and a beautiful version of “Desperado” as a tribute to Glenn Frey from the Eagles. Closer to the end of the main set, the band played “The River of Dreams” commonly known for the first line of the chorus, “In the Middle of the Night…” Right when the long pause was coming up to begin the third chorus the band jumped into their second Eagles song of the night, “Taking it Easy” to which they played in full only to return and finish the song they started.

The song of the night was “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” This epic and beautifully written masterpiece was the perfect start to the closing of the main set. The saxophone has never sounded so smooth and the piano breakdown was flawless. The goosebumps on my arms became so large I was considering a consultation with my doctor. After the seven and a half minute tune, it was time for Joel to close the set with the one song everybody knew was coming,

“Piano Man,” ending with a standing ovation — but the encore was a series of monster hits such “Uptown Girl” and “Big Shot.”

Before they were done, the band had two really surprises for the audience. They did a perfect cover of “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin where the guitarist not only sang, but sounded like a perfect copy of Robert Plant. As an outro to Joel’s “You May Be Right,” they played “Rock & Roll” by Led Zeppelin. The night ended with everyone dancing to “Only the Good Die Young.”

Overall, the concert was one of the best concerts I have ever had the privilege to attend. If you are fan of his music, but have hesitated or make excuses for not seeing Billy Joel in concert, check yourself and your priorities, because you are clearly not making the right decisions in your life. He’s still got it.

Billy Joel Live Review 2016 by S.T. Register, edited by Amanda Starling.
Billy Joel Live Concert Photos by Vanessa Rios.


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