Review: Billy Joel, LG Arena

Check out what our reviewer thought of Billy Joel when he came to Birmingham's LG Arena.

Review: Billy Joel, LG Arena

Billy Joel in concert at the LG Arena, Birmingham

Incredibly it's been 20 years since New York giant Billy Joel recorded his last album, but although he may now be wider of girth and balder of head, the Piano Man has lost none of his powers as an entertainer.

Kicking off his show in Birmingham with the anthemic My Life was a statement of intent as Joel launched his crack band into a two-hour plus show of hit singles, album favourites and forgotten gems.

Not above a joke at his own expense, he wisecracked "I'm Billy Joel's Dad . . . Billy had a hair appointment!", celebrated his advancing years with a brief foray into The Beatles' When I'm Sixty-Four and finished each of the autobiographical trio of A Room Of Our Own, the peerless Always A Woman and a thoroughly upbeat Uptown Girl with a deadpan: "And then we divorced".

The stunning light show, featuring a huge bank of video screens at the back of the stage, came into its own during a majestic New York State Of Mind, giving the audience a nighttime flight over the streets of the city that never sleeps, as well as Scenes From An Italian Restaurant and peppering the sold-out arena with pop culture references during We Didn't Start The Fire.

Other fan favourites included the inevitable Piano Man, which got the biggest singalong of the night, Allentown, River Of Dreams, Moving Out and Pressure, while for the aficionados there was Vienna, Zanzibar, Where's The Orchestra? and the rarely played Blonde Over Blue.

There were some strange omissions though; where was romantic radio staple Just The Way You Are and his anti-war polemic Goodnight Saigon?

Never mind, Joel, in fine voice all night, impressed at the piano throughout before strapping on an electric guitar for the encores, prowling the front of the stage and throwing his microphone stand around during a breathless It's Still Rock and Roll To Me, You May be Right and Only The Good Die Young.

In a year which has seen the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Rod Stewart hit the LG Arena stage, Billy Joel proved that he too has staying power.  

Many of his fans are left wishing though that he would end his two-decade song-writing sabbatical and regale us with more slices of life from the Big Apple.

By Ian Harvey

Add your comment