Billy Joel @ Hollywood Bowl – Thank you Billy Joel

10310960_10152210536288842_5347088195700475043_nFirst off… Thank you Billy Joel.

Secondly, to the rest of you, this isn’t a review… And if you’re afraid of reading a spoiler… Stop reading.

Generally, I haven’t been much of a fan of being part of an audience… Crowds. Tight seats. My size (feel like I’m blocking everyone). Bathroom lines. Traffic. Overpriced beverages, parking, tickets… And the first concert I ever went to was sort of a let down (Van Halen), where I had more fun during intermission where I could talk with my friends and when paper-airplanes were being made and tossed throughout the stadium, even though I was a big fan of their music…

Since then I could probably count all the concerts that I’ve bought tickets to on one finger… Billy Joel at the Bowl (May 17th). That’s not to say I haven’t seen a bunch… Comps. Gifts. Walk ins. And work.

When working behind the bars at the Beacon Theater twenty years ago I caught snippets of many acts, and while catering in The Hamptons, New York City, and Beverly Hills, I saw many private concerts… Including Betty Buckley and Jerry Orbach singing at a piano in an amazing apartment on the Upper East Side, and Sting playing songs off a new album at a pool party thrown by MTV. I think I was working at the Beverly Hills Hotel a night Prince played, but I guess I was on a different party, because I don’t have the memory other than I think I was working there… I even brushed shoulders with Billy Joel at Christie Brinkley’s Bridgehampton wedding in ’96, the same day I had my first and only taste of Cristal… Taking a swig for an open bottle after we closed the bar.

Anyway, I’ve long since been a fan of Billy Joel’s music… Can’t say every popular song of his (We Didn’t Start the Fire & Uptown Girl), but overall… You know, I once asked a question to people on my social media what they felt the musical difference between Billy Joel and Elton John was… And while I got many great answers… I realized my own answer… For most Elton John songs, when it comes on the radio I think, “what a great song,” and then most of the times I change the station… But with many Billy Joel songs, I think, “what a great song,” and then I turn it up and sing along… I don’t know why that is, it just is. Maybe it’s the perceived personal truth and rawness in the songs. Again, I really don’t know.

Yet it’s funny, while I’ve sung several Billy Joel songs in piano bars, I covered an Elton John song in my closet before tackling a Billy Joel song in there.

Okay, I’m way off topic…

Years ago I made a promise to myself, if Billy Joel ever played at a small venue, or a venue I liked, I would break my long tradition of not paying for tickets and being part of the audience… I would go. While I’m not a fan of sitting in crowded rows… I love learning… And couldn’t imagine NOT learning something from such an artist. And so… When I heard he would be playing at the Hollywood Bowl, I was online with my credit card, thirty-minutes before they went on sale, just to make sure the process would go smoothly.

It’s funny, yesterday I worked as an actor on a huge national commercial, featuring a Super Bowl champion, something most people in Los Angeles would kill for, yet my biggest concern was whether or not I’d make it to the show starting at 8 PM…

And not only did I make it, but I had time to go home and shower too!

I was extremely excited to be there, with my friend… Enjoying a picnic in our nearly empty row… But honestly, when the music started… And the seats filled up… Being crammed, sitting next to a pot smoker, and in front of a guy that believed he knew everything Billy Joel would do, and say… I fell back to my belief, that I’d rather be working or listening while doing some thing myself.

One by one “the expert” behind me, was wrong… From the opening song selection, to each next song that Billy would play, all the way to last words he predicted Billy would utter before the concert ended…

And when Billy Joel asked the crowd which song we wanted to hear… Either Vienna or Summer Highland Falls… I bellowed so loudly, three rows in front of me went deaf. VIENNA!

It was then that I was happy to be there… Vienna was one of the songs I went in wanting to hear. Maybe because it’s one of his songs I’m considering singing myself some day… Maybe it’s because I felt like we, the audience, had made a difference to the performance of the night (I’m sure it was designed that way)… Maybe it’s because I had enough second-hand pot smoke… Maybe…

I had a great time… My friend danced in her seat and she soon had me singing along, and doing my best I-can’t-move-my-arms-from-my-sides shuffle, bob, bounce, nod and weave…

As amazing as I would imagine it would be to be Billy Joel, to be that loved, that admired, that well paid, a thought crossed my mind… I wonder if there’s a part of him that misses being an unknown, playing in small piano bars… Where he knows “John” the bartender and the waitress who practices politics… To have the experiences of the struggle, and to write from those places… I mean, yeah, all those people facing you, and echoing back your words must be powerful and I can’t imagine how glorious it must be… But I wonder.

Anyway, thank you Billy Joel for writing much of the sound track of my past… For playing many of those same songs last night… Thank you for making “the expert” behind me, wrong time after time… Thank you for such great lyrics, stories and music… For your on stage persona… Your (seemingly) honest and raw banter… And for choosing to play at the Hollywood Bowl.

Born out of Hackensack…

– Quiche Out

BTW. Billy, if you ever want to slum and “guest” in my closet… LMK.

Link to Audience at Bowl sings along: http://youtu.be/sfPLtGAKH8g

If you’re curious… Billy’s set list (confirmed by Setlist.FM).

 

  1. Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)
  2. Pressure
  3. Everybody Loves You Now
  4. Vienna (Audience had a choice between this and Summer Highland Falls)
  5. Ballad of Billy the Kid
  6. Zanzibar
  7. The Entertainer
  8. Where’s the Orchestra?
  9. Allentown
  10. Say Goodbye to Hollywood (He said he hadn’t played since the 80’s)
  11. New York State of Mind
  12. Sometimes a Fantasy
  13. Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
  14. Layla (Interlude)
  15. She’s Always a Woman
  16. The River of Dreams / Surfin USA
  17. Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
  18. Piano Man
    ENCORE…
  19. It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me
  20. Big Shot
  21. You May Be Right (With Adam Levin & Dave Johnstone)
  22. Only the Good Die Young

2 thoughts on “Billy Joel @ Hollywood Bowl – Thank you Billy Joel

  1. I love Billy Joel! I gerw up on his music! My favorite song by him is Only the Good Die Young and We didn’t start the fire! Sounds like you had a great time… Kinda! I love concerts I don’t like the crowds and the overpriced food! There’s always an “expert” at every concert and I seem to always sit next to or near them every time! I would love to see you do a Billy Joel song you’d be great! Well you already are but….. Oh and I seen you in a commercial for a men’s suit business you looked great! Just wanted to pass that along to you!

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  2. I also went to Billy Joel’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl but I went a few days after you on May 27th. Looking at your setlist has me wondering if Billy Joel changed it up for each show? we had a different set list. Most of what is listed below was performed that night but Billy also sang “My Life” ” We didn’t start the fire” and “Uptown Girl”. I definitely want to go back! one of the best concerts I have been to in a long time!

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