Billy and his band rolled into Tampa on Friday night to a sold out show at the 20,500 seat Amalie Arena. The Bay area crowd crossed several generations and were ready for Joel to bring on all his beloved songs of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Playing for 2 1/2 hours, Billy and his band brought it. Opening with “Miami 2017″(Seen the Lights Go out on Broadway) followed by “My Life”, the audience was ready for the hits to come!
Billy Joel’s body of work is staggering. He never plays the same setlist twice not just because there are so many top 40 hits but because album tracks and “B” sides are as popular with fans as hits. Joel’s first hit came in 1973, with “Piano Man” at a time when it was all about the album. Cuts like “Vienna” and “Zanzibar” lyrics were as well known among the crowd as hits “Movin’ Out” and “Allentown”.
Billy brings New York City to the world. Images of the Big Apple on the giant screen and the music’s lyrics transport the audience to the streets of the five boroughs with “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”, “Uptown Girl” and Joel’s ode to the city with “New York State of Mind”. Billy’s monthly residency at Madison Square Garden is constantly sold-out! His recent appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon has millions of views. Bronx born and raised on Long Island, Springsteen calls him “The King of Long Island”. He is a musical ambassador for New York.
Backing Joel is a band of artists that bring their own individuality to the Joel catalog. Crystal Taliefero on percussion was discovered by John Mellencamp and has been with Billy since 1989. Dave Rosenthal on keyboard is the musical director for the band and an original member of the rock band “Rainbow”. Chuck Burgi on drums has played for who’s who of musicians from Bon Jovi to Diana Ross. Mike DelGuidice on guitar came from a Billy Joel tribute band called “Big Shot” on Long Island to play with his hero. Bassist Andy Cichon comes from Australia and plays with both Billy and Shania Twain. Carl Fischer on trumpet, sax and trombone brings a one man horn section. Guitarist Tommy Byrnes toured with Brian Setzer and was musical director of Twyla Tharp and Joel’s Broadway show “Movin Out”. Brooklyn’s Mark Rivera brings some of the most famous and iconic sax solos to Joel’s tunes. Mark has worked with Elton, Hall & Oates, John Lennon and has toured with Ringo and the All-Starr Band. He has played with Billy since 1982.
Billy paid tribute to David Bowie with “Rebel Rebel” early in the show. He sang a beautiful solo cover of “Desperado” dedicated to Glenn Frey. Later in the show the band played another Glenn Frey written tune with “Take It Easy”. Billy is clearly a fan of rock as they did a great cover of Zepp’s “Whole Lotta Love” and used “Rock and Roll” as an intro to “You May Be Right” They played a five song encore and closed with “Only the Good Die Young”.
Billy and company clearly love what they are doing and it shows. The Tampa crowd sent the love right back with a sing-along to songs that stand the test of time. Quoting sax player Mark Rivera, “Billy’s music has created a musical photo album of our time”.
photos for The Sarasota Post by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography