ST. LOUIS - Busch Stadium was filled with the roars of the crowd, flies, swats and massive hits all night long.
Unfortunately for local fans, the Cardinals were out of town.
Billy Joel, on the other hand, had his massive stage show set up in left-center field and played to a sold-out crowd.
With his standard piano that sounds like a carnival set up on a Lazy Susan so he could turn and see all around him, the Piano Man touched on every part of his career. He even let the audience join in the fun, giving them the choice between a pair of songs on several occasions throughout the night (an example: “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” won out over “The Downeaster Alexa”)
“Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)” and “New York State of Mind” were, of course, huge successes with the crowd while giving nods to Joel's beloved home of New York. The sweet, soulful “She's Always a Woman” was punctuated with a humorous coda as Joel added: “And then we got divorced.”
A couple of cover songs made their way into the set, as well. Joel led the band on a rendition of the Beatles' “A Day in the Life,” but he traded his 88 keys for six strings and turned the microphone over to crewmember Chainsaw to cut to a hell-raising version of AC/DC's “Highway to Hell.”
After a strong 22-song set, the band took a breather before coming back out with a strong five-song encore. Before kicking into “Only the Good Die Young,” Joel gave a little tip of the hat to the Archdiocese of St. Louis who banned the song in 1977, helping generate buzz and notoriety that improved (according to Joel) the performance of the single at the time. The night closed out with the hit, “You May Be Right,” leaving the crowd on their feet, cheering for more.
Oh, and about those flies and swats? Armed with a flyswatter and bug spray, Joel spent the evening battling the late-summer pests familiar to all of us in the Midwest.
But at least he was having fun.