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Billy Joel At Barclay Center, New Years Eve, 2013 Reviewed

Billy Joel deep cuts





















Of all the words of mice and men the saddest are these “We haven’t played this in a long while so please cut us some slack”. On New Year’s Ever, Billy Joel says just about the same thing twice as he takes us for a 50 minute ride right to the count down, with one deep album cut after another .  God knows, if this is the set he is taking to Madison Square Garden for his concert a month residency, the repeat business is gonna be seriously disappointing.

Picking his way through some real obscurities, including an early “All For Leyna” and a late “Blonde Over Blue” thereby blowing his chances of  getting himself acquitted, it was though Billy Joel had amnesia and forgot exactly what we came to a Billy Joel concert for. When you buy a Lexus, you turn over the ignition and the car purrs, when you go to a Billy Joel concert, he sits at his piano and knocks you out with one brilliantly performed Joel gem after another. He’s not Elton Joel. He ain’t gonna play Peachtree Road or Blue Moves all night; Joel’s the man, he is gonna deliver the goods. You’re gonna get what you came for, his best songs.

Except he isn’t. This guy blew off “The Longest Time” and”Keeping The Faith” to play “I’ve Loved These Days” -an overblown piece of cheese with big holes where the rats have eaten it up. This entire hour is so irritating I begin to take it out on the audience, I have never come closer to a random act of violence in my life than halfway through his live on ABC song I can’t take my eyes off  a large overweight 45 year old man, singing to his wide overweight wife “You may be right” and then erupting with “I may be crazy”. Pathetic, haranguing and the word isn’t crazy the word is damaged. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, there is something so sad about these white ugly Americans and their insistence that they might be crazy. No, they aren’t crazy. What they are us the definition of lives of quiet desperation. And Billy is their soundtrack. AND EVEN THEY DESERVED A BETTER CONCERT THAN THIS.

The shows two best moments are improvised, a jazzy verse of “Get Back” and, killing time before we join ABC’s abysmally named “Rockin’ Eve” show, Joel ragtimes himself through two minutes of “Root Beer Bag”.  And there are other highlights,“Bigshot” -the name of the Joel tribute band from whence Joel got his current guitarist  Mike DelGuidice, is fun. Mike is good, the band is good, the horn solo on “New York State Of Mind” is terrific -a subdued melodic humm but with backbone. Joel is great. A terrific musician and a thumping good time.  “River Of Dreams” was specifically good. But I saw Joel four out of  his record breaking  twelve night residency at  MSG and every single concert was much better than this one was. When he turns on the power an hour and a half in, it is too late. It is past midnight and we’ve already given up on the evening. This is bush league stuff. 

Joel has something that money can’t buy, people trust him. He does the right thing by them. Before last night you could never imagine him portraying the hubris Springsteen so often does, Joel is too smart, too professional.  Yet here he is and there is another track from Songs In The Attic.

Very disappointing.

Grade: C

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