“Fielder’s choices” and all the essentials from Billy Joel in milestone Wrigley Field sell out

Photos by Andy Argyrakis

“I don’t have anything new out,” admitted Billy Joel shortly after kicking off his fourth consecutive Wrigley Field sell out (not counting his prior pair alongside Elton John) with “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway).” Everyone cheered and “The Piano Man” got a hearty laugh knowing the only reason anyone came was for the old stuff anyway, which is exactly what The Friendly Confines scored for two-and-a-half hours.

The Fab Four even earned a second shout-out via “A Hard Day’s Night,” sandwiched ever so fittingly around “The River Of Dreams,” which was one of many occasions where Billy Joel and his longtime band took liberty to take the flow wherever it would go.

In what’s now an annual tradition, the vocally dependable Joel managed to walk the fine tightrope between covering all the essentials and making several updates to the show to keep repeat customers interested. Sure there were warhorses such as “Pressure” and the venue mandate “Go Cubs Go,” but “The Entertainer” wasted no time digging into his increasingly beloved “fielder’s choice” segments to put the set list temporarily in the hands of the audience.

For instance, “Vienna” beat out “Just The Way You Are,” “The Longest Time” topped “An Innocent Man,” “Zanzibar” trumped “Big Man On Mulberry Street” and “The Downeaster Alexa” narrowly skated past “The Ballad Of Billy The Kid.” Random covers also abounded, including The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” and a bit of Chicago’s “25 Or 6 To 4,” since after all, it was that band’s hometown.

The Windy City was soon given a glimpse of Joel’s primary stomping grounds in “New York State Of Mind” and a trip to the working class town of “Allentown,” complete with geographical references on the piano-key shaped screens. The Fab Four even earned a second shout-out via “A Hard Day’s Night,” sandwiched ever so fittingly around “The River Of Dreams,” which was one of many occasions where Joel and his longtime band took liberty to take the flow wherever it would go.

Though the 68-year-old isn’t as active of a mover behind the piano bench (besides swatting away some pesky bugs), he strapped on the guitar for “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” swayed along to his doo wop influences during “Uptown Girl” and gave the mic stand some wild twirls throughout “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me.” Joel wouldn’t have been let out of the stadium without giving “Piano Man” a whirl, but “Only The Good Die Young” may have usurped it as the evening’s primary participation point and was yet another of the 150 million record-selling reasons the masses keep coming back for more.


For additional information on Billy Joel, visit BillyJoel.com.

Upcoming concert highlights at Wrigley Field include Florida Georgia Line with Backstreet Boys, Nelly and Chris Lane (Aug. 12); Green Day (Aug. 24); Lady Gaga (Aug. 25) and Zac Brown Band (Aug. 26). For additional details, visit http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/ballpark/ and LiveNation.com.