I finally saw Billy Joel in concert! I’m not much of a music person. I like music, of course, but not in the way that a lot of people do. I’d almost always rather listen to a podcast or audiobook than music, though I do love me a good kitchen dance party.
Billy Joel, however, is an exception. My mom is a big fan, and I don’t remember when I first heard his songs, but I’ve loved his music since I was little. My appreciation for it has only grown over the years as I could understand the significance of the words in Goodnight Saigon, or the message in Vienna Waits for You . I love the piano-driven music, the timber of his voice, and his great story telling.
Seeing Billy Joel perform live has been on every started and abandoned 101 list through the years. It went back on this one, because Billy is probably one of the less than five artists I feel compelled to see perform live. And let’s face it, our boy Billy hasn’t always taken the best care of himself, so he may not have a lot of tours left in him.
My plan was to watch his tour schedule and try to do this at some point, but it wasn’t on my radar yet. However, this summer my friend Jen posted on Facebook that she had two great tickets to an upcoming Billy Joel concert in DC that she couldn’t use and asked for takers. Hurray for needing to get up early to feed the hounds. I was the first to jump on the offer and had the tickets locked down by 8am, long before all the other people who commented on her post tried to snag them.
Concert tickets are expensive, so it was a splurge, but it also made the perfect early birthday present for my mom – the lady who introduced me to Billy Joel. She was so excited when I told her about the concert, and I knew this would be a birthday present both of us would cherish.
We headed for the Nationals stadium on Saturday, July 30. The forecast was looking ominous, but the rain was holding off…until we emerged from the metro. The skies opened up and it poured. The concert faithful packed into the covered walkways of the park where the bathrooms and food counters are, hot, sweaty, and slightly smelly in our ponchos and wet shoes. But people had fun with it. A man kept getting the crowd to sing Piano Man, and I amused myself by watching a woman unabashedly read a filthy romance novel on her iPad, in huge font.
An hour and fifteen minutes late, the show started. The opening act was cut and Billy carved a couple of songs off his set, but we still got to hear all of our favorites. Our seats were perfect – in the stands along the third base line, second row. As a bonus, whoever had the seats in front of us must have decided not to brave the rain and we had a totally unobstructed view. Mom and I danced and sang along and had the best time.
Billy Joel has not lost his touch – his voice sounds the same as ever, he played the piano with so much energy, and his chatting between the songs was really funny. And the production value of the concert had me rethinking my previous concert apathy. The backup musicians were tremendously talented and fun to watch and the videography and lighting really enhanced the songs and the experience. Mom and I both declared it the best concert we had ever been to.
Giving Mom that gift made me so happy. We had such fun – including the adventure of the rain. I know the memories of that evening will last far beyond that one day, proving again to me that experiences make the best gifts.