South Floridians were once again treated to ringing in the New Year with the Piano Man himself at the BB&T Center.For the third year in a row, Billy Joel ushered us into the new year with an exhilarating two and a half hour set beginning at 10:30 pm and still rocking the stage til after 1am into 2018. The opener for the night was Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, an amazing pianist/songwriter successfully warming up a very eager audience anticipating a New Year’s Eve concert extravaganza.
Joel crossed the threshold stepping onto the stage to a fully sold out arena screaming for him and after sitting down at his piano, sprang into Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway). It’s truly hard to fathom that he is 68 years old, as Billy Joel sounds just as he did when he started out in the 70’s, his voice totally unchanged by time, his stage presence still just as powerful and playful as when I was last lucky enough to see him back in “83 in New Jersey. As he is known to do, Joel joked with the audience as he popped on some super silly oversized gold 2018 glasses while tooting his New Year’s Eve noisemaker. His easy banter with his audience led into his endearing act of self-deprecation while giving everyone the chance to join in the fun by offering up “a choice” of fan-favorites to choose from – giving them two options at a time. The New Years crowd at BB&T delightfully chose Zanzibar, followed by their next choice of Vienna (preceded by ¾ of Elton John’s Benny & The Jets).
As he continued to joke, laugh and play his way through a thoroughly delightful setlist with Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song), New York State of Mind, Don’t Ask Me Why, All About Soul, Joel also threw in great bits of other musician’s works such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience Purple Haze cover and The Rolling Stones Honky Tonk Woman. He performed all this while his piano sometimes was revolving around on that signature 360 degree turntable piece of stagecraft. That was just part of the fun that kept the crowd cheering all throughout the night.
The excitement in anticipation for the stroke of midnight was building. All at once, seemingly the entire arena’s crowd stood up on their feet singing and dancing as they knew the countdown was about to go down. The screens above the stage simultaneously broadcast the live New York feed for all to watch the ball drop. The audience was practically shaking the arena as each person in the room shouted out from ten down to one. When the countdown concluded, Joel launched into the Robert Burns cover of Auld Lang Syne as tons of confetti rained down on the crowd and people hugged and cheered in the new year.
The second half of the performance kicked it up another notch as the Joel and the band tightened it up to match the arena’s upbeat atmosphere launching into My Life, The River of Dreams and of course the much awaited Piano Man. This was followed by an encore set that pumped out rest of his biggests hits everyone was waiting for including We Didn’t Start the Fire, Uptown Girl, It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me, Big Shot, Only the Good Die Young and closing to thunderous applause with You May Be Right. Absolutely a stunning way to welcome 2018!
Happy New Year Everyone! Hoping we can all share in this amazing experience again next year.
(Preceded by Elton John’s “Your Song” Snippet)
(Preceded by “This Night”… more )
(Preceded by 3/4s of Elton… more )
(Followed by portions of Derek… more )
(The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
(The Rolling Stones cover)
(Robert Burns cover)
(With a “Twist and Shout” Beatles style interlude)
(Giacomo Puccini cover)
(Preceded by Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula” snippet)
(with Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” snippet interlude)