Friday, May 15, 2009

dueling pianos

As most of you know, last night was a fabulous one. I knew it would be awesome, mainly because I got to take off work after putting in several (I mean, several!) hours at S'n S. I got to see two of music's greatest legends, Elton John and Billy Joel. It was at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. This was the first time I saw both (hopefully not the last!) and needless to say I got my money's worth.

Before I do the review, I will say that I am aware that not a lot of people like Elton John. He has stated several offensive things about religion (and his thoughts on banning it), and I understand that not everyone agreed. Some despise him for being homosexual. I don't agree with the views of over 90% of musicians that I like, as most are far left-leaning. To me, its the music that always counts (or in some cases). It is also unfortunate to note that before the show, I saw a group of people across the street holding up signs and yelling. They looked like followers of Fred Phelps. I was so ashamed to see people holding up signs that attacked Jews, Obama labeled as anti-christ, gays, and America. I was more shocked to see little kids as part of that group doing the same. I am for free speech and all, but be careful of whose toes you step on.

I've been to several concerts, including metal to old 80s bands. But the concerts I like the most are where you can see a very diverse, multi-generational (minus kids) crowd. I felt like I saw several people from different walks of life with one thing in common: to see the superstars that everyone liked perform. When I was on the Metrolink I was talking to a group from Topeka, KS (6 hours away!) and they knew, like me, they would be in for a big show. One of my older co-workers, Vicky, said that she saw Billy three times during his 70s and 80s years, and she said to be careful because the guy talks at the piano between verses in songs. He didn't do that last night, but instead made several humorous comments about various things (like the Kiel Center and its name changes...).

Alright, on to the music. British royalty music came on and suddenly the pair graced the stage and started pounding away a few duets. One of them, 'Just the Way You Are', was brought to my surprise (according to his wiki page, it is reported that Billy does not perform this song in concerts for personal reasons...). Then finally Elton performed for about an hour an a half, and then Billy. It was mostly their 70s and early 80s songs, and that was fine with me. I honestly don't care too much for Elton's short 'Disney' period, and apparently neither did anyone else. I was a bit surprised that Billy played one of my favorite 'not-so' hits 'Zanzibar' (off 52nd Street). Overall, I was satisfied with the song selection. With a huge catalog of songs, I know it was hard for them to choose what they and the public liked.

So the question on everyone's minds: Why do we still love these guys and their music? I usually use the same old answer: because, arguably, today's music sucks. Look at it this way: have we really found this generations ultimate male (or female) singer/songwriter/pianopounder? I remember this question was raised during radio news class where our teacher made the remark. It's also important to note that Elton and Billy are outspoken critics for the music industry. They know indeed that touring is the only way to 'stay around' and 'stay alive'. That's probably the reason hardly any new material has come out from them in almost a decade.

It was awesome, overall, and one of the best energetic shows I've been to. I don't have a favorite particular concert, because I've been to 'artist only' and several festivals. So it would be hard to analyze. I've been listening to these guys for a long time, since grade school. I remember when I was helping my mom clean the basement and I found a box of 45s. I started playing one, and one of them was Elton John and a duet with John Lennon 'I Saw Her Standing There'. My mom said to flip it over and play 'Philadelphia Freedom'. Over the years I've been introduced little by little of Elton John's material. My older sisters were the ones that got me into Billy Joel, as I clicked well with his songs. I would always listen to the Greatest Hits Vol. I and II on vinyl over and over before getting into his other material. To finally see the two perform, in person, was an amazing experience.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed yourself at the concert! I never got into Elton John (I don't particularly DISlike his music, but just never got into him), but I really like Billy Joel. I think he's an incredible musician, but also part of the dying breed- a fantastic story-teller. I really get swept up not just in his music, but also in his words. Songs like Goodnight Saigon, Nor'easter Alexa, and of course Piano Man, all tell a great story.