Billy Joel in Concert

Billy Joel, center stage, put on
energetic show.
dwm photo

When you wait a long time for something to arrive, it is hard for whatever it might be to live up to expectations.

As I wrote Saturday, in one sense I've been waiting 40 years to attend a Billy Joel concert.  In a time-linear orientation, I've been waiting since January, when I heard he was scheduled to perform in Lambeau Field.

My anticipatory excitement began when I got online February 10 waiting for sales to begin, I was picturing being in the stands June 17 when he took the stage.

Joel didn't let me down.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness opened.  He was better than OK and has a nice sound.  He offered thanks to Billy for the opportunity and knows how to rock-n-roll.  But he wasn't the one I was waiting for....

Roadies changed the stage for the featured act.  Lights dimmed. Swelling music played.  It was finally time.

Stage lights flashed to life as Billy Joel banged out the familiar notes to Movin' Out on the grand piano.  The piano stood center stage on a platform which rotated 180 degrees.

We jumped to our feet, 45,000 strong, ready for our moment just in case he needed us to pick up the song we knew by heart.

The stage stands in the south end zone. Our seats were
on the north goal line.  Thankful to have screens!
dwm photo
After the sustained applause and cheers for Anthony and his dreams of doing a stand-up routine in L.A., Billy Joel sat at the piano and made introductions.  This was his first visit to Lambeau, he said, but admitted to visiting Menominee, Eau Claire, and Madison.

Those early visits likely came before he was Billy Joel, the Piano Man.

He hit the right notes about visiting football's holy grail and watching Packer fans freezing their butts off, prompting chants of "Go Pack, Go!"

Billy Joel's greatest hits delighted, but I loved how he incorporated lesser known songs from albums that marked times of life for the singer and his audience.

Music and lights rocked the house Lombardi built.
dwm photo
The Stranger, 52nd Street, Glass Houses, Innocent Man.

One song after another... "Pressure, The Entertainer, The Longest Time, Allentown, My Life, and We Didn't Start the Fire" were introduced with a few words.  Several times, the crowd voted by cheering which of two songs he would play - which is why we heard "Vienna" and "All for Lena" instead of another song.

The light show punctuated the presentation with a mix of light and video effects which added to the song's message and whipping up the collective joy and adulation with the packed house of life-time fans.

At one point, I thought he would take a short break, he is 68 after all.  But he didn't - charging on with a high energy show which showed off his music's range - doo wop, jazz, hard rock, rhythm and blues.

If I had to choose my absolute favorite Joel song, it's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" with the unchanging story of Brenda and Eddie and those romantic teen-age nights of yesteryear.  It was the penultimate song of the set.

Billy Joel in Concert, June 17, 2017, Green Bay (dwm)
When he next placed a harmonica holder around his neck and blew out the first few notes, his signature song, Piano Man, filled the air.

It is remarkable when a performer makes something feel new and special when it's something they've done hundreds of times.

So it was with Piano Man.  The crowd, on its feet, sang every word, and when he stopped singing and pointed our way, we belted it out like our collective lives depending on it.

Sing us a song, you're the piano man.
Sing us a song tonight.
Well, we're in the mood for a melody.
And you've got us feeling all right.

The final notes wafted into the night air, replaced by cheers and pleas for more music.

"We Didn't Start the Fire"
Billy Joel on guitar.  (dwm)
The band left and after a couple of bows so did Billy Joel.  I'm guessing he got some more bug spray as he was bothered by flying insects most of the show, but they returned to perform an encore with a stadium full of back-up singers.

"Uptown Girl, It's Still Rock and Roll, Big Shot, Only the Good Die Young, and You May be Right (I may be crazy)" closed the show.

The show was magnificent and was worth the price of admission and seemed to validate a lifetime of memories.

I'm glad he was faithful to how his fans know the songs so we could sing along.  Some singers change it up so it's interesting for them.

On a night when tens of thousands of people paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to see him - his performance felt like it was really for us.

Early in the show, Billy talked about people in the neighborhood yelling at him and his friends when they sang on the street to go home, observing things change.

Thankfully, for the Billy Joel faithful, his music and the way it makes us feel hasn't changed and will live for lifetimes to come.

Later tonight, at 11:20 Central  Daylight Time, the summer solstice occurs and my season blog goes live with a couple poems for the summer.