Billy Joel rocked in 2014 with a massive, two-hour extravaganza at Barclays Center that marked his return to full-time touring in America.
Joel launched his first public concert in Brooklyn -- he recalled playing some private gigs in Bay Ridge when he was 17 with his band Lost Souls – with "Miami 2017," which drew a huge ovation with its reference to the borough. The response was even larger when he declared “Brooklyn’s got a winning team” during “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” though that still refers to the Dodgers and not the Brooklyn Nets whose home he was visiting.
Joel’s show also drew a national audience, as he performed “You May Be Right” for broadcast on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve.”
As he did at his surprise show at The Paramount in Huntington in October, Joel mixed in some songs that he hasn’t played in decades with the better-known material that recently landed him the Kennedy Center Honor, America’s highest award given to performers.
“We could totally screw this up,” he said, before launching into “All for Leyna,” from his 1980 album “Glass Houses,” and asking the band to signal him so he didn’t mess up the phrasing in the third verse. “Let’s see what happens.”
And what happened was special. Joel seemed energized by playing his lesser-known material, especially “All for Leyna,” which featured Tommy Byrnes cranking out a guitar riff that would have been at home on a new wave era single from The Police, and on “Blond Over Blue,” which he has never played on tour before.
The energy carried over into his classics, as new vocal arrangements featuring his stellar eight-piece band livened up everything from “Allentown” to “Zanzibar” and even “Auld Lang Syne,” which featured some nice harmonies.
Joel travels to Florida with this tour next week, before returning to New York next month for the start of his new residency at Madison Square Garden, where he will play monthly for as long as the public remains interested.
The most exciting part of the show is seeing Joel, who had taken a few years off from performing, seem interested as well.
SETLIST: Miami 2017 / Everybody Loves You Now / New York State of Mind / All for Leyna / Until the Night / Get Back > Room of Our Own / I’ve Loved These Days / The Entertainer / Where’s the Orchestra / Allentown / She’s Always a Woman / Souvenir / Auld Lang Syne / Big Shot / Root Beer Rag / You May Be Right / Pressure / Movin’ Out / Blond Over Blue / Zanzibar / Don’t Ask Me Why / River of Dreams / Scenes from an Italian Restaurant / Piano Man // ENCORES: We Didn’t Start the Fire / It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll to Me / Only the Good Die Young