On Friday evening, one of the best-selling artists of all time and six-time Grammy Award winner Billy Joel returned to sell out Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL for the eighth time.
The stage was adorned with a familiar black piano, which came to life the moment Joel took his seat and kicked the night off with, “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” and “Pressure.” With a discography spanning over 40 years, the crowd ranged from enthuasiastic teenagers to retirees enthusiastically reliving their teenage years.
It didn’t take Joel long to prove that not only is he “The Piano Man” but also “The Entertainer,” as he picked up a bottle of throat spray and announced to the audience, “I’m not sick, I guess it’s supposed to help keep the throat wet. I don’t really know what it does.” He paused for a moment as he spritzed it into his mouth and continued, “I saw Madonna use it once. I figured if it’s good enough for Madonna, it’s good enough for me!”
At only a couple songs further into the show, Joel opened up the set list to popular opinion. He provided a few choices from the 1993 ‘River of Dreams’ album without generating much of a buzz from the audience. Joel chuckled and joked, “What else was on that f–n’ album?!” He mused, “There’s the title track…” to which the crowd responded with a loud roar that Joel had to quell, stating that it would come later toward the end and then deciding, “Let’s do ‘All About Soul’.”
The set continued with a smattering of notable singles including: “New York State of Mind,” “My Life,” and “The River of Dreams.” There was an eruption of applause and cheering as Joel adjusted his harmonica and let his fingers dance through the opening notes of, “The Piano Man.” The mass of 20,000 commenced a resounding sing-a-long so heartfelt that even Joel himself appeared to have a tear in his eye.
Despite nearly a two hour long set spanning over 20 songs, fans weren’t going anywhere without an encore, and Joel was more than happy to appease. Six of the best were saved for last, starting with “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and bidding the audience goodnight on “You May Be Right.” Though he’s not far from turning 70, his body and voice have weathered the test of time and show no signs of stopping – and we, the fans, are all the more thankful for it.