The man with the most Madison Square Garden sellouts is running a close second to that streak in Chicago thanks to his third consecutive year of performing at Wrigley Field. As has been the previous case when paired with Elton John, and more recently as a solo headliner, Billy Joel basically blinked and once again filled The Friendly Confines on Friday night (along with the surrounding streets with those unable to score a ticket).
As Billy rounded the bases with the obligatory “Piano Man,” the volume of the sing-a-long surely stretched all along Wrigleyville, though it was only a hint of what was to come during the super-stacked encore.
While he can always be depended upon to present many tried and trues (“My Life,” “Just The Way You Are,” “Allentown,” “She’s Always A Woman”), repeat attendees have surely relished the increasingly common audience selection segments and surprises that explore more distant corners of his 150 million album selling catalogue. For round three at Wrigley, that meant rarities such as the brass-stacked “Big Man On Mulberry Street,” the retro girl group-inspired “Say Goodbye To Hollywood,” the contemplative ballad “And So It Goes” and even a mash-up between his own “River Of Dreams” and the oldie “Heatwave” (soulfully sung by multi-instrumentalist Crystal Taliefero).
In addition to “The Piano Man” banging away at his bench, strapping on a guitar, twirling his mic stand (and periodically rampaging with a fly swatter), he was joined by the same world class band that’s helped make this ongoing concert series one for the record books. The massive staging, complete with several screens shaped like the keys of his primary instrument, also ensured those in the furthest rafters got a closer glimpse of the almost two-and-a-half-hour undertaking.
As Billy rounded the bases with the obligatory “Piano Man,” the volume of the sing-a-long surely stretched all along Wrigleyville, though it was only a hint of what was to come during the super-stacked encore. Joel and company cranked out “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” “Uptown Girl,” “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me,” “Big Shot” and “You May Be Right” with barely a break in between, evoking the spark of his younger years (albeit with much slower movements) and sounding pretty spot on for a guy who’s now 67.
The roar was absolutely deafening as he delivered the standard swansong “Only The Good Die Young,” while a quick survey of the crowd indicated almost as many younger folks as longtime listeners. Indeed, Joel hasn’t lost a shred of his popularity over multiple generations (despite his retirement from recording pop music), and should he decide to stop by these same ivy-lined walls around a year from now, chances are that tradition will resume.
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For additional information on Billy Joel, visit BillyJoel.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at Wrigley Field include Luke Bryan on Saturday, August 27. For additional details, visit LiveNation.com.