Hot on the heels of performing his 100th concert at Madison Square Garden on July 18th (during which Bruce Springsteen showed up, and the pair sang duets of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and “Born to Run”), Billy Joel returned to perform for his fifth straight year at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts on August 10, 2018.
While he has a long way to go to match his amazing record of nights at Madison Square Garden, a feverish sold-out Boston crowd welcomed back the native New Yorker, as if he was a home town hero.
Joel commenced the night with his ode to 70s excesses on “Big Shot” and the irresistible “My Life” (both lifted from Joels 1978 effort, “52nd Street”), and ran through a great mix of album cuts and hits during the night. Unlike last years show at Fenway, Joel didn’t have the crowds cheers choose between certain songs, and cover version songs were kept to a bare minimum.
Die-hard fans were in heaven during “Zanzibar,” “Summer, Highland Falls” (a deep track from 1976s “Turnstiles” record), and “Vienna.” Post “Vienna,” the band played a bit of the group Bostons first single, “More Than A Feeling” – a nice nod to the Beantown audience.
After digging into another rarity,” And So It Goes,” a passionate yarn of a decaying romance from 1989s “Storm Front” album, Joel led his band through a trio of classics, “Allentown,” “New York State of Mind,” and “Don’t Ask Me Why.” Prior to playing, “She’s Always a Woman,” Joel half-jokingly stated that it was written for his “first ex-wife.”
Then, in a move that thrilled the crowd, Joel brought out two separate guest singers; J. Geils Band front man Peter Wolf (who had been the opening act the night before at Fenway Park for a Jimmy Buffet concert) tore through a manic version of “Centerfold” (and gave props to Joel saying he truly is one of the “nicest people” in the industry), and, in a more shocking moment, Joel welcomed Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott, who belted out “Pour Some Sugar On Me” (Def Leppard performed the night after Joel show at Fenway).
Joel once again manned a fly swatter during the night (which he turned a prop, twirling it a few times as if it was a drum stick – and in the style of The Rascals former drummer, Dino Danelli) to deal with the insect problem brought on by Fenways bright lights.
The opus, “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and “Piano Man,” ended the initial set – though Joel quickly returned for a four song attack of “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Uptown Girl” (which was just used brilliantly in the season finale of the HBO television drama, “Succession.”), “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” and closed out with, “You May Be Right,” which was extra special as Elliott came out again to sing back up (Joel and company even adding a bit of Led Zeppelins “Rock & Roll” mid-song), which made for a climactic finish – so good that Joel raised his own performance to such a level that, if he returns for a sixth year at Fenway and raises the bar again – summer 2019 can’t get here quickly enough.