Piano Man rocks Hartford

HARTFORD√¢?” Want to be a part of history? Just head to a Billy Joel concert at a nearby venue and it will be history in the making. From the little kid sitting a seat down, the older couple a row in front, the teenagers, and every age in between dancing in their seats, everyone will feel as if they belong at this concert.

On March 10 at the Hartford Civic Center, Billy Joel took the stage at 8:20 p.m. and for the next two and a half hours it was nonstop rock and roll.

Starting with “Prelude/Angry Young Man” and ending with “Piano Man,” Joel took the audience on a road trip through history.

He offered up a few laughs as well. From jumping off his piano or rapping to “Big Shot” while wearing a backwards baseball hat, to throwing the microphone stand around the stage during “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” Joel knows how to put on a show filled with energy.

With his piano on a rotating platform, no matter where someone sat they got a glance at Joel’s face. For the fans on the sides of the stage, there were two 88 key keyboards at each end that he played on.

Joel explained a lot of the motives behind the songs he played, including his desire to write a western while living on the west coast that led him to write “Ballad of Billy the Kid.”

He also told the story behind the song “Storm Front,” a story about a fisherman who used Joel’s dock. The fisherman went out one day in a storm and did not come back.

There were only a few points in the concert that slowed the tempo, including “Goodnight Saigon,” “She’s Always a Woman,” “Lullaby,” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” Each of these songs was met with audience praise and was a well needed rest from the rock and roll going in the arena.

One of the biggest surprises came towards the end of the show. Joel brought onto the stage Chainsaw, a member of his road crew, to sing “Highway to Hell.” This is not a song one might expect to hear at a Billy Joel concert. The audience however, was on its feet screaming for Chainsaw and singing along.

Joel ended with a three song encore of “Only the Good Die Young,” “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” during which the audience swayed with cell phones, and “Piano Man.”

During “Piano Man,” Joel and his band stopped playing during the chorus and all that could be heard was the sound of the thousands of fans in the audience, old and young, singing “sing us a song, you’re the piano man/ sing us a song tonight/ cause we’re all in the mood of a melody/ and you got us feeling alright.”

It was this final encore that created history. Generation barriers were broken and the audience was united by a song that has lived through three decades and is still one of the most popular songs ever.

Billy Joel is a part of American music history and for one night any fan can be part of that history too.