Billy Joel Heats Up Amway Center With Hit After Hit

There's no stopping the Piano Man!

January 12, 2019

Photo by Norrel Blair

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Unlike other veteran performers who continue to produce music, yet find that the only songs their fans really care to hear in concert are the hits, Billy Joel knew what he was doing when he stopped writing after 1993's River of Dreams album.

With the number of hits he had in a recording career that spanned nearly 25 years, he can put on a full show (tonight's show was over 2 hours long) playing nothing but true hits and fan favorites. And that's exactly what he did at the Amway Center this evening.

Opening with the bombastic "Big Shot," Joel quickly got the audience on their feet and singing along, a place they would find themselves most of the night.  

[PHOTOS] Billy Joel At The Amway Center

"Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)" may not have been a huge hit when the Turnstiles album was released in 1976, but thanks to its inclusion as the opening number on Joel's live Songs In The Attic album from 1981, it's become a beloved song, and the Orlando audience absolutely erupted when he sang the line "Before we all moved here to Florida!" 

Swapping ABBA's Fernando for Orlando, Joel humourously said hello to the City Beautiful before launching into the melancholic "Summer, Highland Falls."

"We're not a bunch of spring chickens up here," Joel said. "This year I will be 70. Life keeps getting more and more interesting. I think the key is to just stay alive."

A line from his next song, "The Entertainer" (from 1974's Streetlife Serenade), says "I won't stay here another year if I don't stay on the charts." And once his career kicked into high gear, scoring songs on the charts was never an issue for Joel, as evidenced by the hits that just kept coming throughout the night. 

In fact the hits were so plentiful that he barely had time to talk between numbers. "Movin' Out," which would later be the name of a Broadway dance musical based on the music of Joel, ended with a wailing sax trio that was sheer perfection. 

"I'm in a New York state of mind, but I'm wintering in Florida," Joel said before launching into a jazzy version of "New York State of Mind," and giving him a chance to show off some fancy work on the keyboard. "I'm sentimental, but not stupid," he remarked, getting a nice laugh from the audience. 

A blast from a steam whistle garnered cheers and brought the audience to their feet once again for "Allentown," the fan favorite from the socially conscious The Nylon Curtain album from 1982.

Billy Joel band member Michel DelGuidice, who was brought aboard by Joel after he heard DelGuidice's Billy Joel tribute band Big Shot, took center stage, impressivley singing the classic Italian aria "Nessun Dorma." It was the perfect lead in to one of Joel's most amazing compositions, "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant." The majesty of the song is unmatchable.

Once he pulled out the harmonica it was obvious that he would be doing his signature tune, "Piano Man," closing the first portion of the show. "It's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man's clothes," has even more resonance sung by Joel in his twilight years.

A four song encore closed the show with "We Didn't Start The Fire," "Uptown Girl," "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," and "You May Be Right." 

Of course the Billy Joel jukebox could have had him, and the audience, singing along for at least another hour or more. It's been over 25 years since he stopped writing music, but his hits live on. And if he's going to be wintering in Florida, here's hoping that he'll be bringing those hits back to Orlando on a regular basis during the winter months to heat things up once again.