You may recall a couple months back I had set the DVR to record the “Great Performances” episode featuring Billy Joel live at Shea Stadium. You may also recall my DVR screwed up and stopped taping in mid-show.
No big deal, I thought, the good folks at Channel 9 would surely run it again. PBS does that all the time. Especially with someone as popular as Billy Joel. Especially during pledge month.
So, I turned to the St. Louis Public Library, which had a copy of “Billy Joel: Live at Shea Stadium” in a 2 CD/DVD combo pack. I put my name on the reserve list and a few weeks later a copy was delivered to my door (Well, it was delivered by The Wife, who works in the same building as one of the library’s branch offices).
Public Library: 1 / Public Television: 0.
It turns out I was better off waiting for the DVD. While the edited-for-TV version probably featured a dozen songs, probably less, the DVD features an exhausting 25-song set — with three bonus tracks. It just went on and on. I’m sure the ticket price was outrageous, but song-for-song those in attendance got their money’s worth.
I’m glad I wasn’t there. It’s one thing to watch a show like this from the comfort of your couch, it’s another thing to be there and have to stand during the entire thing — which is what would have happened because I always wind up sitting behind the jerks who stand during the entire show.
As for the concert itself, it’s a fine career retrospective. Mainly because Joel is one of those rare musicians who understands that his best stuff is his old stuff so he doesn’t drag the show down with the later stuff that’s not as strong. Of the 22 songs in the set, only six are from the post-“Nylon Curtain” era. Wise.
Joel and his band are as strong as ever. Sometimes in concert Joel can go into lounge singer mode which I find annoying, but there’s not a lot of that here. There are numerous guest appearances that are best when Joel is performing with the artist but rather pointless without him. I guess he needed to take the occasional bathroom break.
Overall an entertaining show, but I only watched it once and it’s unlikely I would sit through it again. The CDs were fine but I didn’t feel the need to run out and buy a copy for my collection. The three live CDs I already own pretty well cover my need for any live Joel.
Oh, and the next time Channel 9 sends me a letter asking for money, I think I’ll send a check to the library.