Gig Review: Billy Joel - Hammersmith Apollo ✭✭✭✭✭

Billy Joel

Photo courtesy of Carol Billett (Twitter)

Hammersmith Apollo

Tuesday 5th November 2013: Having sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, Billy Joel is one of the most popular and well-respected entertainers in the world. The six-time Grammy Award Winner has also earned numerous awards and honours including induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, The Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Tony Award, The Billboard Century Award, and the RIAA Diamond Award.  

Recently, the legendary composer was honoured by Steinway & Sons with a painted portrait that hangs in Steinway Hall in New York City, the first non-classical pianist to be immortalized in the collection. As a humanitarian, Billy Joel was honoured as the MusiCares Person of the Year and has launched an educational initiative providing endowments and musical scholarships to a variety of universities and music schools.

Photo courtesy of Carol Billett (Twitter)
Not only are these his first UK shows in seven years, his Hammersmith Apollo date last night was the first time Billy Joel has performed in an intimate theatre setting since 1977. Opening with My Life, followed by Movin' Out (Anthony's Song), the 3600 strong sold out crowd (the show sold out in less than 5 minutes when it went on sale) were in for one hell of a night. 

Scattered amongst al the usual Joel favourites, Billy also played some of his rare live songs - Where's the Orchestra? for example from the early The Nylon Curtain album, and Blonde Over Blue from his last studio album The River of Dreams. In between songs, Billy would chat with the audience, he recalled the last time he was in Hammersmith, he was at a birthday party for Elton John where he dressed up as a soldier and it was the most times he has had his bum pinched!

Photo courtesy of Fiona Tomasi (Twitter)
Billy also mentioned that he is now 64 years old - cue a little blast of The Beatles' When I'm Sixty Four of which everybody sang along to! Uptown Girl was sounding as fresh as the 80's, New York State of Mind has the fabulous sax solos, River of Dreams has the wonderful percussion pounding through, and in the pause, Rule Britannia made an appearance. One song I was surprised to see on the setlist was Pressure - an old favourite of mine which I just love hearing live, especially with the lighting and other visuals flashing through it. Zanzibar is another favourite of mine - the fusion of jazz and trumpet solos is just something else.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant had everyone singing along, a standing ovation at the end of it, and I have no other words to describe Piano Man apart from stunning! With a four song encore to end the night, Billy came on with his guitar for We didn't start the Fire and It's Still Rock and Roll To Me, the power rock of You May Be Right and finishing the set with Only the Good Die Young.

Quite possibly one of the best concerts I've been to, ever. It's only taken me over twenty years to finally get around to seeing Billy live in concert - I'm so glad I did!

Five stars ✭✭✭✭✭

UK dates: 




My Life 
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
Everybody Loves You Now
Where's the Orchestra?
When I'm Sixty-Four  (The Beatles cover)
New York State of Mind
She's Right on Time
She's Always a Woman
Don't Ask Me Why
Uptown Girl
Blonde Over Blue
Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
The River of Dreams (with Rule Britannia)
Piano Man

We Didn't Start the Fire
It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
You May Be Right
Only the Good Die Young