Billy Joel at the MGM Grand: Seven observations

Billy Joel at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/

Seven observations about Billy Joel's Valentine's night MGM Grand Garden Arena concert:

1. Man, this guy’s got a ton of hits. He didn't do "Captain Jack," "Say Goodbye to Hollywood," "The Stranger," "Big Shot," "Don't Ask Me Why," "Pressure," "Goodnight Saigon," "Tell Her About It," "Uptown Girl," "The Longest Time," "Keeping the Faith" or "This Is the Time," and he still managed to fill two hours with songs most everyone in the house surely knew (oddball deep-cut entries "Zanzibar" and "The Ballad of Billy the Kid" aside).

2. He really needs to take the chorus to “An Innocent Man” down an octave. On the cusp of 60, his voice ain’t quite what it used to be.

Billy Joel @MGM Grand

3. The show peaked when he performed solo from his piano. Sadly, he only did it twice, for “She’s Always a Woman” and “She’s Got a Way.” His band isn’t untalented, just unnecessary much of the time given Joel’s stage charisma and the strength of his best song-stories.

4. Surprisingly, the arena’s video screens sat dark throughout the night. Perhaps BJ isn’t particularly happy with his look these days.

5. He sprinkled bits and pieces of “Pachelbel’s Canon,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “My Funny Valentine” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” into his set. What, has Joel been listening exclusively to Phish bootlegs lately?

6. The sax solo in “Just the Way You Are” just might be the single wimpiest moment in the history of rock ’n’ roll.

7. Debate the merits of Joel’s career if you want, but know this: Most artists would kill for an encore trio like “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant”/ “Only the Good Die Young”/”Piano Man.”

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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