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Billy Joel wows crowd at Texas racetrack

Billy Joel performs at the Formula One Grand

Billy Joel performs at the Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 23, 2021.  Credit: AFP via Getty Images / Suzanne Cordeiro

Billy Joel played Austin, Texas, for the first time in 30 years on Saturday, performing a sold-out show at the Germania Insurance Super Stage of the Circuit of The Americas racetrack.

"We are here! Austin, Texas. United States Formula One Grand Prix 2021," the Billy Joel Instagram account posted Saturday, with a 17-second video of the band’s daytime rehearsal, with race cars nearby taking practice runs. The day's events included Formula Four and Formula One qualifying races in the morning and afternoon, capped by the penultimate race of this season's women's Formula One racing, the W Series.

On Sunday, Joel's Instagram account posted a set list for the 1 hour, 45 minute show, with 14 songs plus a five-song encore. Per that list and concert reviews, the show opened with "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" and went on to hits and favorites including "Pressure," "The Entertainer," "Allentown," "Zanzibar," "Only the Good Die Young," "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" and Joel's signature song, "Piano Man," as well as such deeper cuts as "All for Leyna." The reviewer for UltimateClassicRock.com noted that Joel sang the first lyric of "Piano Man" — "It's nine o'clock on a Saturday" — precisely as the clock struck 9.

The encore comprised "We Didn't Start the Fire," "Uptown Girl," "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," "Big Shot" and "You May Be Right" — that closer including a short passage of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" performed by singer-guitarist Mike DelGuidice, formerly of Miller Place, who years ago went from fronting the Joel tribute band Big Shot to joining Joel's actual band.

Joel also threw in moments of the regionally appropriate 1940s pop hit "Deep in the Heart of Texas" as he led into "I Go to Extremes" and, with DelGuidice's vocals, included ZZ Top's "Tush" within "The River of Dreams."

A concert review in the Austin American-Stateman newspaper quoted Joel as saying partway through the show, "We don't get to play in Austin that much," with the reviewer noting that Joel had last played the Texas capital at the city's Erwin Center in November 1990.

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Joel's current tour opened Aug. 4 at Boston's Fenway Park, marking the star's first concert since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. He played Buffalo's Highmark Stadium on Aug. 14 and Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park on Sept. 10, and next resumes his pandemic-interrupted Madison Square Garden residency on Nov. 5.

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