Age and transgressions have become running jokes between songs for Billy Joel, now 58 with a near-bald pate and gray beard: He's back on the road, Joel jokes, because he needs money for car insurance.
Age and transgressions have become running jokes between songs for Billy Joel, now 58 with a near-bald pate and gray beard: He’s back on the road, Joel jokes, because he needs money for car insurance. His Orange County concert on Saturday was a pleasant, if somewhat rehashed, string of hits. He has no illusions that he is the same performer who would once run around the stage in white sneakers and climb on the piano, but as long as baby boomers want a trip back down memory lane, he’s more than happy to oblige.
His two-hour, 20-minute show is mostly a 1970s hit parade; the youngest song in the set, “River of Dreams,” is from 1993. He reached back to his first album, 1971’s “Cold Spring Harbor,” with “Everybody Loves You Know”; his signature tune, “Piano Man,” remains the show closer. A solid though not spectacular veteran seven-piece band backs him.
Joel found renewed energy with songs off “Glass Houses,” among them “You May Be Right” and “Don’t Ask Me Why”; the dark and lyrically expansive “Captain Jack” and “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” remain treats. Then there are songs that felt woefully dated, especially “Zanzibar,” from “52nd Street.”
Clearly out of breath after “The River of Dreams,” Joel let a roadie sing AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” with Joel on guitar. Fist-pumping and the roadie’s rough vocals undoubtedly invigorated the proceedings.
Joel plays New York’s Shea Stadium on July 16 and 18: He will be the last musical act to play the ballpark before it shuts down after the current baseball season and become the only performer to have played Yankee Stadium, Giants Stadium and Shea.