Billy Joel is 65.
For some, that’s for retirement age. Not for Joel. He’s still got it. He is still a master performer. Joel played his piano and sang for two hours even after making fun of his age at the US Airways Center in Phoenix covering his entire career which dates back to the early 1970s.
Of course, Joel played his hits like “New York State of Mind,” “Pressure” and “Big Shot.” But he also played a few lesser known tracks. He snuck in “Zanzibar,” “And So It Goes” and “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” between his biggest commercial successes.
There aren’t too many people left who do what Billy Joel does. He’s done it for years, decades even, and when Joel performed “Still Rock and Roll To Me,” I found myself wondering if he ever gets tired of performing some of these songs over and over again. He’s had to have sung them thousands of times.
If he is tired of playing songs like, “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” he doesn’t show it. Joel still banged away at those keys like he was hustling for fans in stuffy, smoky clubs.
He’s still having fun playing that piano, an instrument he’s been playing for over 50 years. It’s obvious when he covered songs like the Eagles’ “Take It Easy” and Led Zepplin’s “Fool in the Rain.”
Why wouldn’t he be having fun? He’s sold over 150 million records worldwide over the course of a 12-album career that began in 1971. He’s an artist. But sometimes artists disappoint when they return for their retirement tours. Joel didn’t. At one point, Joel was twirling the microphone stand and throwing it into the air during “You May be Right.” Yeah, clearly he’s still having fun.
Can you tell I’m a fan?
That’s how I judge live performances. Did I leave the venue as a bigger fan? In Joel, there’s no question about it.
Fittingly, he plays his most famous song, “Piano Man,” last, before the encore. As the final chorus kicks in, Joel stopped singing and playing, letting the audience finish the song. It’s a moment to realize how important music can be.
I’ve been listening to Billy Joel’s music since I was a child, I’ve never had the chance to see him live. I may never get the chance again, which is why I’m glad I had the chance to see The Piano Man. Mid-60s or not, his music lives on. So will Billy Joel’s performance.
Billy Joel set list at US Airways Center June 1, 2014
“Miami 2017 (Seen the Light Go Out on Broadway)”
“Fool in the Rain” (cover)
“Your Song” (cover)
“New York State of Mind”
“The Ballad of Billy the Kid”
“And So It Goes”
“Take It Easy” (cover)
“She’s Always a Woman to Me”
“Don’t Ask Me Why”
“Highway to Hell” (cover) with roadie, “Chainsaw,” on vocals
“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”
“The River of Dreams”
“Hard Days Night” (cover)
“We Didn’t Start the Fire”
“Still Rock and Roll to Me”
“You May be Right”
“Only the Good Die Young”