5 Reasons Why Billy Joel Concerts Still Rock After 40+ Years

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AT&T Park Before Billy Joel's performance

Fans at AT&T Park just before Billy Joel came on stage.

On September 5 during a trip to San Francisco, CA, I attended a concert by the Piano Man himself, Billy Joel. This was a very special night for him since it was the first time in 43 years that he was performing in the city. He last had a gig there all the way back in 1972, performing at the now-shuttered nightclub The Boarding House.

He played a great mix of his best known hits while also adding in some of his lesser known songs. There was "Piano Man" and "New York State of Mind" and "It's All Still Rock and Roll To Me," but also "Vienna" and "Zanzibar." It was an excellent show all around. It had great music, a great location on the water, and everybody was having a great time. There was definitely a good vibe going on in that ballpark, and some people were dancing the entire time (no doubt assisted in this endeavor by a drink or two).

Since then, I've had some time to think about why Billy Joel has held up as a popular touring artist all these years. I've come up with a few ideas which are, with the exception of the final one, in no particular order.


Run Away With Me Still

Spin recently made a statement so bold that a contemporary pop-detractor* such as I had no choice but to actually do the unthinkable: listen to Carly Rae Jepsen. Brennan Carley simply wrote “Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Run Away With Me’ Is the Best Pop Song of 2015 Yet.”

Seven months into a year that pushed out pop hits from pop princesses like Taylor Swift (hey there, “Bad Blood”), Selena Gomez (she’s upping her music cred via a collab with A$AP Rocky wherein she channels Lana Del Rey – for what reason, I cannot say), and Demi Lovato, Brennan Carley’s assertion is a pretty bold one. But the move of lady-lead pop toward EDM-influenced danceable numbers has given way to Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me.” If you’re the last person on the planet (apparently) who hasn’t seen the lo-fi vid, enjoy it below:


Names You Need to Know Yesterday: James Bay

James Bay

Though I wouldn’t go so far as to assert that naming One Direction as fans should place an artist in the annals of music history, 24-year-old British singer-songwriter James Bay does just that – and so much more. The up-and-coming musician has already won Critics’ Choice at the 2015 BRIT Awards, and the quantities of nominations for his accolades are creeping up. Not too shabby for a kid who has only released one album, Chaos and the Calm, in March of this year.




With the Broadway debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s much anticipated opus Hamilton coming up on July 13 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, the Great White Way is abuzz with praise for the new musical. Ben Brantley of The New York Times, the paper itself a bastion of restraint and the last word in theatre reviews, gushed, “HISTORIC. HAMILTON is brewing up a revolution. This is a show that aims impossibly high and hits its target. It's probably not possible to top the adrenaline rush. A MARVEL.” Fellow Gray Lady mainstay David Brooks similarly decreed, “BRILLIANT. HAMILTON is one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had in a theater. Bold, rousing, sexy, tear-jerking and historically respectful — the sort of production that asks you to think afresh about your country and your life.” And the reviews gush on, and on, and on.


5 Small Music Venues that Seriously Rock

5 Small Venues

Toad’s Place – 300 York Street, New Haven, CT

Why Toad’s Place Rocks: Originally, the Yale Co-op stood where Toad’s now resides. It was various restaurants after Yale sold it off, and former culinary student Michael Spoerndle purchased the building to turn it into a French and Italian restaurant in 1975. But by 1976, Toad’s Place (that was also the name of the restaurant, btw), Spoerndle transformed Toad’s into a live music venue with the help of local musician Peter Menta, as well as friend and co-owner Brian Phelps. Right off the bat, acts like Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker graced the stage at the 750 capacity club. Billy Joel recorded “Los Angelenos” from his album Songs in the Attic at Toad’s in 1980, and U2 played there three times at the dawn of the ‘80s while they promoted Boy and during their October Tour. They also premiered the song Fire there, and Adam Clayton can be seen in a Toad’s tee shirt in early promo photos of U2. In 1990, Bob Dylan played a set that lasted more than five hours, and was his first club appearance in a quarter century. More recent acts have included Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis, Juicy J, Interpol, and Wiz Khalifa.

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