The Piano Man

“Guess what I got?” My mom had the grin of a child on Christmas day. Before I could guess she shouted, “Two tickets for Billy Joel! You want to come home for the concert?” The look on her face was so youthful, so excited I couldn’t have said no even if I wanted to. “Of course I’ll go,” I said with a similar grin. As the concert drew nearer I completely forgot about it. It wasn’t until I arrived home that I remembered why I had come home in the first place. Sure I wanted to go to the concert, but it wasn’t lingering on my mind. I didn’t have any expectations about Billy Joel, but upon arriving to the concert I realized I was in for a surprise, a big one.

I watched as thousands of people pile into the Seminole Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, FL on Jan. 16. There was a familiar buzz in the air: A buzz of anticipation. A buzz of excitement. I expected an opening act but to my surprise the headline performer came right on. Unlike many concerts I have been to, this one blew me away. I never expected this to be the best performance I’d ever seen. I never expected this to be the only concert I would remember in vivid detail. From beginning to end the sounds of his voice filled the arena and I was brought back to my childhood when my mom first played his music for me. Billy Joel, a voice of the past and present. The only “piano man.”

From beginning to end Joel used humor and wit to draw in the audience on a personal level. The crowd swayed and sang to his classic songs for the entire two and a half hours he played. His wit and connection weren’t his only impressive skills. Besides his unique vocals, Joel played the piano, harmonica and guitar throughout the entire concert. His talent was there for everyone to enjoy and marvel at. Without expecting to, I began to familiarize myself with songs and singing along. Toward the middle of his performance I began noticing the fans. There was my screaming, jumping mother, shouting, “I REMEMBER WHEN I SAW HIM FOR THE FIRST TIME WHEN I WAS 18. HE WORE THE SAME OUTFIT!” She made friends with the just-as-excited jumping woman standing next to her. I noticed the people on the floor. Everyone was standing and embracing the songs, the music, the words. Thousands of people brought together by one performer. For a few short hours we all had the same thing in common: happiness.

Some fans were in a “New York State of Mind.” Others waited for “Captain Jack” to get them high that night. And some were simply “Keeping the Faith.” And we were all enjoying “The Entertainer.” But it didn’t matter which song was reaching which fan. We were united as one. No one was thinking about economic downfall, gas prices or the hourly wage for their babysitter. Everyone was brought together by the music, and everyone was happy. After singing two encores the piano man finally played his song. Half way through it I realized Joel wasn’t even singing anymore. We were singing to the Piano Man and he was playing his piano for us. There wasn’t a voice that couldn’t be heard. And there wasn’t a person not singing to the piano man. He pointed his microphone toward us and we sang in unison until the end. Joel gave a captivating performance, one I will never forget. Because he’s the only performer who gave everyone a chance to “Forget about Life for Awhile.”