Review: Face To Face

Billy Joel & Elton John: Face to Face Tour, March 11, 2010; Albany, NY Times Union Center

I’ve neglected to update since late last week, and fully intended to get the review up on Friday, but as you can see, I had other things on my mind on Friday.  Therefore, after reading another blog, and verifying the set list, I wanted to write my thoughts on Thursday’s Billy Joel/Elton John concert series Face To Face. Steve Barnes, who is a Senior Writer for the Times Union, as well as a blogger with Table Hopping, was in attendance at the concert, and wrote his review the night of the event in the TU box as the TU Center (lucky him!)  He also had some great seats, hence the awesome photo on the review in case you want to read his take on the concert.

I was lucky enough to have a friend invite me at the last minute, as her “date” was on spring break in California and couldn’t make it due to the changes in the dates of the event.  The night was a really nice night for us.  We got lucky and got a table at Jack’s Oyster House, which was packed until 7:25pm, which was our queue to head over to the venue.  We easily got to our seats, and once settled the concert started.  It was perfect timing.

The pair opened strong with:

“Your Song”
“Just the Way You Are”
“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”
“Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (Ode to Joy)”/”My Life”

The interludes to the songs were quite good.  Some drawn out to try to fool you as to what the song was.  I was disappointed that “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” was played so soon, but I was happy it was played!  It was a great opening.  Then Joel left the stage for John’s solo performance.

Although I love Elton John for his eccentricism and his keyboard talent, his presence wasn’t as outlandish as I hoped.  I remember seeing him on television in my younger days, watching him perform in amazing costumes, with authentic enthusiasm.  He always made me smile.  His set was equally as good as the opening, but as I read from other reviews of the set, he has songs that are specifically for this tour, that he doesn’t normally play.  Some of the songs were for the die hard Elton John fan.  My boyfriend asked me to tape
“Madman Across the Water”, but unfortunately I didn’t recognize the song, and he didn’t get his video.  The acoustics and the sound during John’s set, did not give justice to his performance.  One couldn’t hear what he was singing, unless you knew the song.  I saw several people taking bathroom breaks during the beginning of the set.  I have to admit that I did too, just to come out when “Tiny Dancer” was playing.  The end of his set was more recognizable to me than the middle.

“Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)”
“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”
“Levon”
“Madman Across the Water”
“Tiny Dancer”
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
“Daniel”
“Rocket Man”
“Philadelphia Freedom”
“I’m Still Standing”
“Crocodile Rock”

I started singing with “Tiny Dancer” and didn’t stop until near the end of the concert.  After John closed with an amazing “Crocodile Rock”, Joel took the stage.  His presence was so much fun!  He joked, and made “conversation” with the audience.  He made us laugh, and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance.  He was a true entertainer.

“Angry Young Man”
“Movin’ Out”
“Allentown”
“Zanzibar”
“Don’t Ask Me Why”
“New York State of Mind”
“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”
“The River of Dreams”
“Highway to Hell” (sung by roadie named Chainsaw)
“We Didn’t Start the Fire”
“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”
“Only the Good Die Young”

During Joel’s set, I found myself Twittering memories to friends of mine that I used to sing karaoke with when I lived in Omaha.  They know I love Billy Joel, as he’s a staple of karaoke, and they would always sing at least one of his songs.  When I moved from Kansas to New York in 2004, I was constantly playing “New York State of Mind,” even though I didn’t know about any of the places he talked about in the song, or in other songs as well.  When I lived on Long Island for a year, I began to recognize the places, towns, diners, etc. that were mentioned.  It was a treat to live in the area for which many of the lyrics were inspired.

The highlight of the set, for me, was when Joel gave props to one of his roadies, Chainsaw, who came out to sing a little tune to mock our American Idol.  When I heard the opening riff of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” I was almost on my feet (we were sitting in section 234, and I didn’t want to be rude and block the folks behind me.)  It was funny to me, because there was such a variety of people in the audience, that some were enjoying the song, while others had a look of bewilderment on their faces.  I could tell they didn’t like it.  I loved it!

The final set was the icing on the cake.  The pair took the stage again, and played through their final songs on this tour, as they may not do another Face To Face in a while, if at all (their words, not mine).  So, I was so happy to be at this final performance.

“I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”
“Uptown Girl”
“The Bitch Is Back”
“You May Be Right”
“Bennie and the Jets”

This is where the concert got interesting for me.  I loved that the crowd started getting into the songs, but I was not happy that they decided that their seats weren’t good enough, and stood in the balcony walk ways, and blocked the view of several of us trying to enjoy the show.  I only saw that part of “Uptown Girl” was sung with a towel on Joel’s head, which makes sense, considering how much hair the man has.  I wasn’t able to enjoy the workmanship of the other songs, as I was at the opening.  I hoped for an encore, as I knew there were two songs that HAD to be played, but Joel & John stayed on stage, and dismissed the band to play the final tunes:

“Candle in the Wind”
“Piano Man”

“Candle in the Wind” took me back to a homecoming dance in high school, and was a nice memory for me, hence allowing me to forget the jerks in front of me.  Then “Piano Man” of which I used to sing at karaoke, as it’s a really easy song.  Don’t take my word for it, watch Billy Joel’s appearance on Behind the Actor’s Studio with James Lipton, and you’ll understand what I mean.

In all I give the concert a thumbs up!  Way up!  I was excited the whole time!  Times Union Center security deserves another thumbs down, because even though people pointed out some of the issues that were happening, after the first set, they did nothing to rectify.  I did read that one man and his date were moved to floor seats, after a man they were seated next to in the upper deck, spilled his entire beer on the man’s date.  That was very lucky for them, and I am envious of their new seats!

I hope that many of the stories told about the concert and the TU Center security staff over the past several weeks, opens up the eyes of Mike Breslin, who takes these issues into consideration for future events.  Better training of these security personnel & ushers is needed.  Many people paid hundreds of dollars for this concert, to not be able to enjoy it due to the actions of other patrons.

I will overlook the negative portion of the end of the show for me, and appreciate that I finally got to see the pair in concert after being a fan for nearly 40 years.  Thanks to my friend Jessica, who had the extra ticket, and allowed me to attend the concert with her!  I had a great time!

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About Kari

I live in the Capital Region of NY, work for NYS, and am just beginning to blog. I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, so that's going to take up some content. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, and I am an opinionated person. Thus there will be some items that burn me up, that I simply want to play devil's advocate, or daily/personal items. I also Tweet (@Marilyth) when the mood strikes me in 140 characters or less. I'm doing this for fun, and I hope other appreciate the information and contribute!
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