Review: Billy Joel

Review: Billy Joel

The legendary Piano Man graces the stage at BST Hyde Park for his only European performance of 2023. By Adam Davidson.

Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media

Despite being one of the most iconic figures in music history, there is something understated about Billy Joel. The New Yorker didn’t have a grand entrance or special effects to signal the start of his show, he just sat at his piano and started playing. He lets his music do the talking.

He fired through hits like ‘My Life’, ‘Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song), ‘Zanzibar’ and ‘Vienna.’ Hearing all these songs performed back-to-back showcases what an incredible discography Billy Joel has to choose from.

The New Yorker spoke to the crowd and said that this was the brightest sun he has played in front of and “In London of all places!” He speaks to the crowd with such ease and charm that it feels like a small room with 10 people, not Hyde Park with 65,000 but that comes with the territory when you’ve been performing to huge crowds for over 40 years.

He told the crowd that he had good news and bad news, “The bad news is we don’t have anything new to play… The good news is you don’t have to hear anything new.”

He knows what the fans want to hear and isn’t trying to promote a new album but instead just wants to play the hits that made him famous in the first place- which many could take note from.

As a fitting tribute in London, Billy Joel started to sing ‘Start Me Up’ with the Mick Jagger swagger before sequencing into ‘An Innocent Man’ and ‘The Longest Time.’

The highlight of the show was a performance of the classic ‘Piano Man.’ This is one of those rare songs like ‘American Pie’ where it is quite long but everybody in the crowd knows every word. This was certainly the case in Hyde Park and it made for a magical experience as the crowd sang along at the top of their voices and swayed from side to side.

You can never quite predict what tricks Billy Joel will have up his sleeve. Throughout his long and illustrious career he has performed with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Stevie Nicks and recently Olivia Rodrigo.

The guest at tonight’s show was unexpectedly Joe Jonas, who came onstage for a duet of Uptown Girl. The vocals of Jonas and Joel matched perfectly and the London crowd loved every minute of it.

The set ended with ‘Big Shot’, a cover of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘You May Be Right’ to end a masterful performance at BST Hyde Park.

The Piano Man has no plans on retirement and inevitably the appetite will be always here for another huge London show in the near future.

Billy Joel is truly one of the last of his kind, he hasn’t released an album in almost three decades but is still headlining concerts and has the younger and older generations singing along to his timeless songs word for word.


Image: Dave Hogan @ Hogan Media copy