Billy Joel Safe At Home In Final Play At Shea
Billy Joel Live at Shea Stadium: The Concert Sony Legacy, $13.98
While not a Queens-bred boy, what better choice for a musical performer to close out Shea before its demolition than Billy Joel? Filmed over two nights in July 2008, this 2-CD/1-DVD package offers a great overview of Joel's career, and the Piano Man sings and plays with a gusto fitting for the occasion.
But while many highlights include some of his best-known songs ("She's Always a Woman," "You May Be Right," "Captain Jack"), it's the many lesser-known numbers - "Summer, Highland Falls," "Zanzibar," "The Ballad of Billy the Kid" - that really make an impression. Ultimately, the generous 25-song set list is wisely balanced to appeal to all levels of fans.
The DVD also looks and sounds great. From the light show to the frequent aerial and interior camera shots showing the sheer vastness of the stadium and audience close-ups, it's a production of top notch. A little behind-the-scenes footage, like that in previous Joel documentary Last Play at Shea, would have been welcome, though.
Joel also welcomes some well-matched guest performers including Tony Bennett ("New York State of Mind") and John Mayer (who contributes shimmering guitar to the deep cut "This is the Time"). But it's the appearance of Paul McCartney - who knows a thing or two about playing Shea Stadium - that brings the show to another level, and it's 1965 all over again with "I Saw Here Standing There."
Joel also generously allows the Knight of the Realm the final say, with an emotional (if rote) closer in "Let it Be." The DVD bonus footage also includes songs with Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey, and John Mellencamp.
While Live at Shea Stadium breaks no new ground - especially if you've seen him live in the past decade - it is a solid show that fires on all cylinders and reminds the viewer just how great the Joel's catalogue is. And speaking of that...
An Open Plea to Billy Joel:
OK, Billy, your piano partner Elton John recently dished out some tough love in the pages of Rolling Stone and on the Today show. And while his advice was of the medical variety, mine is of the musical: Stop being lazy and get your ass back in the studio and make another record!
I mean, it's been 18 long years since River of Dreams! Diehard fans like CRB himself (first-ever concert - "The Innocent Man" tour, 1984) have spent that time lapping up every live CD, box set, compilation, and deluxe edition that's come out.
And I hear that Columbia is planning a massive reissue campaign. We even bought the classical record you wrote but didn't play on. But what we really want is some new tunes.
You've said in interviews that you've got nothing left to say. Bullshit! You sell yourself way too short. And surely the past two decades of your life can provide some inspiration. Stop filling your days drinking bottles of white and bottles of red, crashing cars, and entering into any more ill-fated marriages with women barely older than your daughter.
You've sang that "every year, the souvenir, slowly fades away." And while Live at Shea Stadium is a great souvenir of the past, we'd like some new memories. It's time to get back to work!
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.