He may be a New York native by heart, but Billy Joel showed that he has a soft spot for his west coast home away from home in Los Angeles. Taking the stage for his second night at the iconic Hollywood Bowl Thursday, Billy wooed the sold out audience with plenty of hits spanning his lengthy music catalog and some lesser played, but equally as loved obscurities.
Opening the atypically overcast night with “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Brooklyn),” the spotlight shined on the solo piano man as he crooned about NYC, all under the view of the Hollywood Sign towering above. After greeting the cheering crowd with a big “Hello, Hollywood!,” Billy then kicked it up with his self-assured anthem “My Life” as generations of fans sang along to every note.
Taking a quick pause to chat with the crowd, Billy informed that he was battling a cold (though you would never have known) and spritzed some throat spray (the same kind Ted Nugent uses, he noted) to help keep his vocal cords moist. He reminisced about his days living in Los Angeles, just overlooking the Bowl on Mulholland Drive, thinking that one day ‘I’m going to play there.’
Now having just celebrated his 65th birthday and 50th year in music this year, Billy finally made his way to the Bowl after all those years. Though he quipped about growing older throughout the night, at one point joking that he’s turned into his dad, Billy’s voice sounds just as pristine and smooth as it did when he first topped the charts; the music and lyrics just as poignant.
He continued the night jumping through the years of well-known hits like “The Entertainer,” “Moving Out,” Don’t Ask Me Why” and “She’s Always A Woman,” plus mixed in some of his deeper album tracks like “Sleeping With The Television On” and “Zanzibar.”
Some of the highlights of the night included a wonderfully unexpected version of “The River Of Dreams” mashed up with a cover of The Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night,” and a spirited performance of “Say Goodbye To Hollywood” that elicited a roar of cheers from the SoCal audience.
Ending his main set with his signature 1973 hit “Piano Man,” Billy brought the focus back to LA. He recalled the song’s inspiration “about a gig I did on Wilshire and Western” where he worked as the lounge entertainment at the now defunct Executive Room bar.
After a brief break, Billy and his longtime backing band – made up of Tommy Byrnes, Andy Cichon, Dave Rosenthal, Chuck Burgi, Crystal Taliefero, Mark Rivera, Carl Fischer, Michael DelGuidice – emerged back on stage for the encore of chart-topping hits.
Even though it took him 50 years to finally perform at the Bowl, it was a night well worth the wait for this SoCal crowd, with even more memories to be made. Billy says goodbye to Hollywood at his final LA show next Tuesday.
Billy Joel at the Hollywood Bowl, May 22nd Setlist:
Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)
Summer, Highland Falls
New York State of Mind
Sleeping with the Television On
Don’t Ask Me Why
And So It Goes
All For Leyna
She’s Always a Woman
Say Goodbye to Hollywood
Don’t Ask Me Why
Keeping the Faith (audience choice)
The River of Dreams / A Hard Day’s Night medley
Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me
You May Be Right
Only the Good Die Young