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"'New York State of Mind' Strikes Chord for Bennett"
(January 4th, 2002)

Tony Bennett, who witnessed the September 11th, 2001 World Trade Center attacks, said audiences feel a special bond with the song "New York State of Mind" that on Friday earned the evergreen balladeer his 20th Grammy Award nomination.

The 75 year-old singer, winner of nine Grammy Awards and a lifetime achievement award last year, was nominated in the best pop-collaboration-with-vocals category for his duet with singer and composer Billy Joel in a remake of Joel's 1976 hit.

"Everybody identified with the song after the tragedy," Bennett told Reuters from the stage at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where some of Friday's Grammy nominations were announced while the main event was being held in Los Angeles.

"The audiences go crazy for it. It gives them a lot of courage," Bennett said.

He recorded the song with Joel in June, three months before the two hijacked airliners destroyed the 110-story twin towers and killed almost 3,000 people.

The native New Yorker said he was still "traumatized" by the tragedy, which he watched unfold from the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts, a public school which he helped found in his home borough of Queens.

"I saw the first plane hit from the window in the men's room," said Bennett, who was at the school, which has views of Manhattan. "Thank God the children didn't see it."

"I was devastated. The world will never be the same. I'm still traumatized myself."

Bennett, who won his first Grammy in 1962 for "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," which became his signature song, said receiving Grammy recognition was still special.

"It's a thrill," Bennett said. "The young people like my records as much as their parents and it's a thrill for me."

"He's Always A Pop Star to Me"
At 52, Billy Joel Writes His Opus 1

By: Kyle Gann
(January 9th, 2002)

In his first foray into classical composition, songster Billy Joel has proved himself a master of second-year college harmony. His aptly titled CD "Fantasies & Delusions" (Sony), its cover tricked out to resemble the standard G. Schirmer cover for classical sheet music, contains his "Opus Nos." 1 through 10, all played by pianist Richard Joo. The pieces - "Reverie," a "Fantasy," three waltzes, an "Invention in C Minor" - sound like the product of some musicologist-comedian's PDQ Debussy, ranging in style from Bach to Chopin to Rachmaninoff and back, frequently changing harmonic idioms several times within one short work. From its near perfect replications of Chopin chord progressions to its naive supposition that composers still use opus numbers, it's pretty amusing. We're all in the mood for a melody, right? Especially if it sounds like one we've heard before.

Equally entertaining have been Joel's public statements about the disc. Interviewed recently on National Public Radio, he admitted that critics were dismissing his music as imitations of Chopin and Rachmaninoff. "They thought they were putting me down," Joel laughed, "but, hey, those are pretty good guys to sound like!" He also provided a defense of attempted plagiarism: If you're going to write "melodic music," he explained, there are only so many notes, and you're going to end up sounding like someone. "Even Beethoven knew that; his early music sounded like Mozart!" Well, OK. I hope Joel remembers that, and declines to litigate, when I come out with my new pop song next month that happens to sound suspiciously like "Piano Man." Hey, I've got to end up sounding like someone.

I know it's a pretty cheap shot, making fun of someone's first compositions, even if they are on a Sony CD that's stayed #1 on Billboard's classical chart for 12 weeks now. One could be forgiven for wondering what higher cultural purpose NPR is serving by turning down dozens of really interesting new-music composers for interviews every month and then promoting this drivel in their place. But what intrigues me more is the evident envy that such violently successful pop musicians like Joel and Paul McCartney (who wrote that pretentious Liverpool Oratorio) have for the prestige of the poor classical composer - and the ease with which they think it is achieved.

They certainly don't feel that the prestige merits financial reward. Many will remember that ASCAP and BMI used to siphon off a small part of their pop artists' royalties to help support their classical or "symphonic" rosters. The classical composers, likely to make only a tiny fraction of pop artists' royalties, were given a proportionately larger percentage of actual income to slightly remedy the disparity. But about eight years ago some of the major pop stars rebelled and insisted on every cent they had coming to them. In 1994, ASCAP and BMI buckled. One composer I know (oh, OK, it's me) used to get about $500 a year in royalties on average before 1994, reduced to $50 post-1994. Some or all of my yearly $450 presumably gets added to Billy Joel's millions. And now, on top of the money I used to get, he wants credit for being a classical composer, too.

Well, it's fair, right? Why should classical composers be subsidized? Only think of Mozart, who at the end of his life was still paying more than half of his income for rent. Think of the trillions of dollars in royalties that daily performances of his music could have earned in the last 200 years. Shouldn't he have been entitled to enjoy a little of that during his lifetime? And before you protest that such tragedies are a thing of the past, think of Morton Feldman - who's had more than 50 CDs of his music appear since his death in 1987, compared to the three records that came out during his lifetime. The undeniable contribution that classical composers make is painfully slow to result in monetary compensation, frequently not until after the composer's death. I've long had a dream that royalties should be charged for music by dead composers rather than living, and divided up among the living ones. That would not only provide composers with an income, but remove the financial incentive that makes music by dead composers cheaper to play.

Quixotic? Perhaps. But no more of a fantasy or a delusion than Billy Joel's evident belief that people are buying his classical piano pieces because they're good.

"Proud Parents"
(January 11th, 2002)

Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley Cook know how to throw a Sweet 16 party. They pulled out all the stops for their daughter Alexa Ray last weekend. It started with a day of beauty for Alexa and eight of her friends in East Hampton. After the girls were groomed, a limo picked them up and drove them to Bryan Bantry's Goosecreek estate where they were ushered into the screening room. Brinkley and Joel had produced a retrospective of Alexa's life, followed by a private screening of "Amélie." Then Joel hosted a big dinner.

"Billy Joel/Elton John 'Face 2 Face' Tour 2002"
(Columbia Records Press Release)

(January 11th, 2002)

Billy Joel and Elton John are back together in the new year for the continuation of the pair's magical "Face 2 Face" performances kicking off on Sunday, January 13th, 2002 in Washington, DC at the MCI Center. Billy and Elton first toured the successful "Face 2 Face" tour in the United States in 1995 and again in 1996. The tour was extended to Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Europe in 1998. The 31-date "Face To Face" 2001 tour grossed $59 million.

Early sales for the Billy Joel/Elton John "Face To Face" 2002 tour of the American northeast immediately set box office records, selling out eleven shows in four cities with additional shows added at each location and new cities being added to the itinerary.

Billy Joel "Opus 10 Fantasies & Delusions (Music For Solo Piano)", the first album of Joel's instrumental compositions, was released on October 2nd, 2001, debuted at #1 on Billboard's Traditional Classical chart, and has remained in the top slot for 14 weeks.

Billy Joel has had a staggering 33 Top 40 hits since he signed his first solo recording contract in 1972. He has received some 23 Grammy nominations - the most recent being this year's nod in the Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals category for his duet with Tony Bennett on "New York State of Mind" - and won five Grammy Awards including Song of the Year and Record of the Year for "Just the Way You Are"; Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male for the album "52nd Street"; and Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male for the album "Glass Houses." In 1990, he was presented with a Grammy Legend Award for his contributions and influence in the recording field. In 1992, Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and, in 2001, was presented with the Johnny Mercer Award, the organization's highest honor. In 1999 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and he received the Recording Industry Association of America Diamond Award for Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II. The Diamond Award is presented for albums that have sold over 10 million copies, and with over 20 million albums sold, Joel's album is the highest certified greatest hits album by a male artist.

Joel has been very active outside his music career, donating his time and resources to a variety of charitable causes. A longtime advocate for music education, he first began holding "Master Class" sessions on college campuses more than 20 years ago. "An Evening of Questions, Answers...and a Little Music" has developed over the years, with Joel giving sessions at colleges across the country and around the world. In addition, he has held classes as a benefit for the STAR Foundation (Standing for Truth About Radiation) and to establish the Rosalind Joel Scholarship for the Performing Arts at City College in New York City.

For his accomplishments as a musician and as a humanitarian, Billy Joel will be honored as the 2002 MusiCares Person of the Year by the MusiCares Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences at a tribute dinner, concert and silent auction to be held Monday, February 25th, 2002 in Los Angeles.

The monumental career of international singer/songwriter and performer Elton John has spanned more than three decades. One of the top-selling solo artists of all time, he has won countless awards including Grammys, Tonys and an Oscar with 35 gold and 24 platinum albums to his credit. Elton's current CD, "Songs From The West Coast," has been critically acclaimed and has just been nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Pop Album." He has a second Grammy nomination for "Best Pop Male Vocal Performance" for the first single off the album "I Want Love." The second single "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" features a video starring Justin Timberlake as Elton John during the 70s. Elton recently received the Radio Music Awards 2001 Legend Award. In 2000, he received the Grammy Legend Award and was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year by the MusiCares Foundation and the National Academy of Arts and Sciences.

For three decades, fans around the globe have been captivated by his charismatic showmanship, while friends treasure the unique brand of steadfast loyalty and constancy of purpose that earned him Knighthood in his native England in 1998.

Over the years, Elton's success has not only been in his musical career. Sir Elton John founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, raising millions for the cause with his own performances and other high-profile events featuring top entertainers. The non-profit Foundation, which funds HIV/AIDS prevention education and patient services, has contributed $30 million in grants worldwide. In addition, as of February 2002, Elton will act as a spokesperson for MAC Cosmetic's Viva Glam IV Fundraising Lipstick and The MAC Aids Fund, benefiting people living with HIV/AIDS. His staunch support of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation and his continued participation in the Rainforest Foundation's annual benefit concert among others reflect his remarkable level of dedication and service.

"Grand Pianos, Great Performers"
By: Christian Toto
(January 15th, 2002)

Sir Elton John and Billy Joel appear to be a curious duo onstage. Mr. Joel's blue-collar ruminations capture a personal look at the world around him, while Mr. John's tales of crocodiles, jets and other bombastic imagery bespeak a bigger picture. Suffice it to say Mr. John is the flashier of the pair.

Onstage for the first of three sold-out shows at the MCI Center, though, the duo come across as a natural, if not inspired, combination.

Last night, the first show of the piano men's latest double-bill tour, came off as being as spontaneous as two expert craftsmen could muster.

Piano pop's elder statesmen faced each other to set the music in motion, perched before a pair of adjacent grand pianos.

Mr. Joel, fleshy in a charcoal suit with a turquoise handkerchief, looked more like the classical musician he has become in middle age than a rock star.

Mr. John, once known for his gargantuan eyewear and bangle-upon-bangle suits, dressed down. He filled out a turquoise suit with only a few diamond sparkles for accent.

The pair opened with an arresting version of "Your Song," possibly Mr. John's most assured and poignant ballad.

Mr. John attacked each verse, his face hovering over the piano, perspiring with the effort. His partner, in comparison, leaned back to belt out the highlights, his gray goatee scratching the microphone, arms extended to swat at his keyboard.

Twin circular-framed video screens brought the action up-close, zooming in repeatedly on the pair's flying fingers.

They traded verses on a few tracks before Mr. Joel ceded the stage to the "Rocket Man."

"Philadelphia Freedom," "Levon," "Bennie and The Jets" and "Rocket Man" anchored Mr. John's boisterous solo set, the latter's piano choruses allowing Mr. John to flex his digital dexterity.

The more muscular the song, though, the more Mr. John's voice became indistinguishable from his tight band's zealous mix.

Mr. Joel fared better. Time hasn't sapped his voice's radio-friendly gloss, nor do his better songs seem as rooted in time as Mr. John's.

Credit the New York native for singing about Brenda and Eddie in the summer of '75 and keeping it timeless.

Mr. Joel answered his friend's reserve of hits with some of his own, from "Allentown" and "Don't Ask Me Why" to "The River of Dreams."

By far the chattier of the two, Mr. Joel warned the adoring crowd that the first night of the tour represented a work in progress. "I always like the first time, anyway," he said with a playful leer.

He then cranked up a sublime "Don't Ask Me Why" with the tune's lush rhythms faithfully preserved.

Among the evening's few missteps were a noble but clunky "Here Comes the Sun" in tribute to George Harrison; the inclusion of the silly, unsatisfying "The Bitch Is Back"; and Mr. John's third costume change. When he donned a colorful wrap for the encore, it took attention away from the music.

Mr. Joel, as shown by his respectable impersonations of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis on "Don't Be Cruel" and "Great Balls of Fire," boasts a malleable instrument. His mimicking of Mr. John on their shared numbers, however, meant a missed opportunity to contrast their voices and give audiences something new.

A classic rock concert may not be the forum for exploration, anyway. The crowd wanted the hits reproduced verbatim, and the duo didn't disappoint. How could they, each with a songbook teeming with rock staples, too many for even a 3 1/2-hour show to cover?

The evening should have felt like a paint-by-the-numbers concert, two pros cranking out their greatest hits for a throng that would forgive them if their act showed its wrinkles.

Instead, as their signature tunes, "Candle in the Wind" and "Piano Man," burst forth, Mr. John and Mr. Joel made it clear the songs felt as fresh to them as to their audience.

"Dynamic Duo"
Elton John and Billy Joel Still Get Good Mileage From Their Rocking 88s

By: David Segal
(January 15th, 2002)

Booking two heavyweights on one show is typically a better idea on paper than onstage. Either the performers lack chemistry, or their rhino-size egos trample each other, or they're forced by time constraints to deliver half-shows that never gel. The rules of celebrity astronomy are pretty clear: Combo concerts draw crowds and make money, but stars don't really belong in clusters.

Unless, it turns out, those stars are Billy Joel and Elton John. For more than three hours at MCI Center on Sunday night, these 50-plus piano men - together, then for lengthy solo sets, then together again - demonstrated that every once in a while, more is actually more.

In a hit-crammed evening, two of pop's most successful sentimentalists were a pair of plumping and cagey showmen, well aware that their best Billboard years are fading right alongside our memories of the Carter administration and cheese fondue. Except for a trio of tunes from John's latest album, "Songs From the West Coast," this was strictly a vintage jukebox kind of program. And it went over big.

This is, by now, a well-honed act. The "Face 2 Face" Tour is the fourth time since 1994 that these veterans have traveled the country together, and there is something approaching synergy here. Joel is the hammy American, eager for a hug, happy to deflect applause to his partner with grins and wheeling sweeps of the hand. John, past his super-flamboyant phase of platform shoes and yard-high wigs, is the more restrained of the two. He seems, at moments, mildly amused by his ethnic, unbuttoned little friend.

They are a natural pair, these former rivals to the piano pop throne. They both experienced their Midas years, when everything they recorded turned into one precious metal or another. They both have survived depression severe enough to drive them to attempt suicide. (In the early '70s, Joel checked himself in for psychiatric help.) They both have been bludgeoned by critics, though Joel has probably taken more lumps than John, at least early in their respective careers.

And they are both, to quote Sir Elton, still standing, if a little more stiffly than a few decades ago. The night started with a recording of "Yankee Doodle," which played on the house system as Joel and John took the stage, saluted each other, then sat at a pair of pianos that were faced off like sofas in a living room.

Music and singing duties were split painstakingly down the middle. They opened the show with a handful of duets, trading verses on songs like "Just the Way You Are." Then Joel departed, leaving John - dressed in a sequined turquoise suit - to condense the highlights of his 34-year career into 70 or so minutes. Each singer brought a band, and John's included some musicians who've been with him, on and off, since 1972's "Honky Chateau," including drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone. No one's seen haircuts like theirs since Styx broke up.

But that's an ideal 'do for a jaunt down AM memory lane, which is where Elton took the crowd on songs like "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and "Philadelphia Freedom." He added a long, honky-tonking coda to "Rocket Man," and tacked a flashy jam to the end of "Levon." But the emphasis was on faithful reproduction rather than artful reinterpretation; the band even re-created the odd little clicking sounds that turn up in the lengthy prog-rock "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," one of the greats from 1973's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."

"I'm just a warm-up act till Billy gets here," John said midway through the set. Sipping Diet Cokes between songs and playing with fingers as doughy as dumplings, John is not above a little self-deprecating humor about his advancing years. He noted, at one point, that actor Robert Downey Jr. and *NSYNC-er Justin Timberlake had appeared in his latest videos, adding: "Their combined age is still younger than me.... But who gives a damn?"

Then it was Joel's turn. Officially retired from the pop recording world, he recently released an album of classical-sounding piano music, which he plugged a few times but wisely refrained from playing. Before his segment began, you had to worry that maybe his heart wasn't in this lowbrow fluff anymore - that he'd come off a bit like a dog who learned to sing opera but would bark on cue for a payday. At a master class at Georgetown a few months back, it was clear that he has at least a bit of contempt for some of his own material.

If he feels the same way about the rest of this music, he hid it well. Backed by what looked like the house band from the Bada Bing Club, Joel bounced from "Allentown" to "Don't Ask Me Why" to "Vienna" to "Prelude/Angry Young Man" and a couple of numbers from the days when he pretended to be Italian, including "Only the Good Die Young." A born comedian - he wove stand-up into his act during his lounge-singer days - he was his irrepressibly goofy self, pausing before "We Didn't Start the Fire" for a seemingly impromptu Elvis impersonation on "Don't Be Cruel." At another moment, Joel soloed on the piano with his rear end.

Measured purely by crowd minutes spent standing, Joel went over slightly better than John, though John might have scored the night's biggest solo applause moment with "Someone Saved My Life Tonight." Neither man alone, however, could match the cheers they earned together when they reassembled at the show's close for encores that included a version of "Here Comes the Sun," "Bennie and The Jets" and, naturally, "Piano Man." When they hugged and waved their last goodbyes, it was obvious: Pop had finally dreamed up a twofer worth buying.

"Billy Joel and Elton John Extend Tour Into March"
By: Jon Zahlaway
(January 15th, 2002)

Billy Joel and Elton John, who kicked off their latest "Face 2 Face" co-headlining tour on Sunday night (January 13th, 2002), have added the first batch of March dates to the run, including a two-night stand at New York's Madison Square Garden.

In addition to the New York City dates, Florida shows are now scheduled in Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa. Tickets for all four of the new dates go on sale this Saturday (January 19th, 2002), according to John's official web-site.

Joel and John's current outing, which is the duo's fourth co-headlining run since 1994, has already sold out multiple nights - as many as six - in Boston, MA; Hartford, CT; Philadelphia, PA; and Washington, DC, where the tour began on Sunday night (January 13th, 2002).

At press time, a limited number of tickets were still available for the tour's Wednesday night (January 16th, 2002) stop in University Park, PA, and its remaining two nights (January 18th & 20th, 2002) in Washington, DC, according to tour promoter Clear Channel Entertainment.

More March "Face 2 Face" dates are likely, as John's solo world tour is not scheduled to resume until mid-April.

In addition to their "Face 2 Face" dates, Joel and John are also scheduled to give a February 26th, 2002 benefit performance in Los Angeles. The event, which will raise funds for the Recording Artists Coalition, will also feature performances by the Eagles, Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crow, and Stevie Nicks.

John, who wrapped up the US leg of his solo run last month, is touring in support of last year's "Songs from the West Coast" (Rocket/Universal). The music video for the album's second single, "This Train Don't Stop," was launched in the US on Friday (January 11th, 2002), when John and *NSYNC member Justin Timberlake - who portrays a young John in the video - appeared on MTV's "Total Request Live."

On Monday (January 14th, 2002), John received BRIT Award nominations for Best British Male Solo Artist and Best British Video for "I Want Love," which features actor Robert Downey Jr. The awards ceremony, which is the British equivalent of the US Grammys, takes place on February 20th, 2002.

Joel's most recent releases are two albums that simultaneously surfaced in October. The first, "Fantasies & Delusions: Music for Solo Piano" (Columbia/Sony Classical), features pianist Richard Joo performing ten of Joel's original piano compositions. The second, "The Essential Billy Joel" (Columbia), is a two-disc set that houses 36 of the musician's previously released pop hits and two classical compositions.

Joel, along with Tony Bennett, recently received a Grammy nomination in the Best Pop Collaboration category for a duet rendition of Joel's classic song "New York State of Mind" that appears on Bennett's "Playin' With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues" (Columbia), released last November.

"Unlikely Pairing of Joel, John Makes For Instant Karma"
By: Melissa Ruggieri
(January 16th, 2002)

On the surface, Billy Joel and Elton John are the unlikeliest of friends.

One swigs from a red plastic cup, the other sips from a can tucked into a mini cooler. One dresses in basic black, the other opts for sparkles, blinding colors and several costume changes.

The Atlantic Ocean might divide their homelands, but put them in front of a piano keyboard and it's instant karma.

Back when pop music meant melody and meaning rather than bared navels and lip-synched pablum, Joel and John ruled with an amazing 92 Top 40 hits between them. Considering that the entire new leg of their "Face 2 Face" tour, which launched at the MCI Center in DC on Sunday, is sold out for multiple dates in most cities, they've apparently retained their status as the king and queen of the prom.

This joint outing, which the pair began in stadiums in 1994 and continued sporadically since, is easily one of rock's most successful franchises. Even with a top ticket price of $178, it's a bargain at 3½ hours of undiluted music (no flying bungee jumpers here), 36 hits and starpower.

Fans who might have traveled last spring to Charlotte or Greensboro, NC, the closest the arena version of the tour came, should be pleased that the set list has been tinkered with a tad. John is embracing a career lift on radio with his "Songs From The West Coast" album, his strongest material in years, and has added a handful of new tunes to his solo set. While Joel doesn't tackle any of the classical pieces he composed (but didn't perform) for his recent "Fantasies & Delusions" album, his performance on Sunday indicated that a break from the road last fall has invigorated his love of playing live.

After embracing at center stage like a couple of friendly tennis rivals at the start of the concert, Joel, 52, and John, 54, retreated to their end-to-end pianos for "Your Song," "Just the Way You Are" and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me."

While neither has ever been a pitch-perfect singer, their voices are loaded with charisma and inflection that haven't faded a shade. It's also true that neither piano man looks as if he skipped out of the buffet line early anytime recently, but both appeared happy, so what's a little extra paunch?

Both Joel and John (in his first MCI Center appearance) took 13-song solo spins with their bands on the open-backed stage before regrouping at the end for even more hits on which they traded piano licks and vocals - the highlight (at least until the audience-sung "Piano Man") being a gorgeous "Here Comes the Sun" tribute to George Harrison.

During John's solo set, he tucked among the eerie "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" and 15-minute version of "Rocket Man" his pointed piano ballad "I Want Love" and the heartbreaking "The Ballad of The Boy In The Red Shoes," both from the "West Coast" album. "Levon" found him bouncing off his piano bench with a bellow, while "Crocodile Rock" retained its status as the anthem of suburbanites who just love that "la la la la la" chorus.

John's five-piece band, led by the fabulous Davey Johnstone on guitar, is one of the tightest ensembles in the business (as is Joel's six-piece group), and aside from some early too-weighted bass notes, rocked solidly.

Joel's music mix suffered frequently from an overly loud rhythm guitar and Mark Rivera's piercing saxophone, but those are typical opening night - and opening tour - bugs that should be rectified for the duo's MCI return on Friday and Sunday.

Though in recent months, Joel has trotted out "New York State of Mind" and "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)" at New York tribute concerts and appearances, hearing them in person gave new reason to sigh as the memory of September 11th, 2001 re-emerged and Joel roared through "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)'s" now-haunting lyric about Manhattan, "I watched the mighty skyline fall."

But there was never a moment of misplaced mush, as Joel soon ripped into a few lines of John Lennon's "Mother" when introducing the mightily talented multi-instrumentalist - and new mom - Crystal Taliefero, and then slid his rump across the keyboard during the intense mental study that is "I Go to Extremes."

By the time John and his band returned to join Joel and his troops, there was nary a sitting body in the crowd of 20,000-plus. It was a hoot to watch Joel lumber atop his piano for the rollicking "The Bitch Is Back," while John decided to camp it up with Rivera during "You May Be Right."

But there aren't many comparable concert scenes as when Joel strapped on his harmonica for the inevitable set-closer, "Piano Man." Neither he nor John had much to do except play the simple melody - the audience took care of the rest.

It's undeniable that Joel and John are as different in style as they are in personality, but we'll let them sing us a song any night.

"A Time To Remember"
Billy Joel and Elton John Thrill BJC Crowd

By: Dante DelVecchio
(January 17th, 2002)

Every so often, a performance comes around so captivating that the only thing that can be done is sit back and enjoy the show. Elton John and Billy Joel achieved this at their sold-out concert last night at The Bryce Jordan Center.

Even before the show started, the anticipation in the air was almost as apparent as the fog drifting slowly across the floor. Then, as an orchestrated instrumental piece poured through the speakers, two pianos ascended from the floor of center stage. With lights dimmed, the two piano men took the stage to an eruption of raucous applause.

Mounting their aural arsenal, the pair traded vocals and focus, hammering through some classics, only to climax with "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." A patchwork of purple and teal light, which coincidentally matched John's suit, bathed the stage. This only heightened the emotion heard in the voices of John and Joel, sending ripples through the crowd as an orange light fell onto the audience as the profound refrain boomed.

Each pianist then took time for a solo show, first of which was Sir Elton. Drawing songs from every era of his career, the now middle-aged John performed the songs with the fervor of the younger self that composed them. The most powerful song performed was the semi-local anthem "Philadelphia Freedom," which even saw some of the braver souls in the crowd dancing out of their seats.

This power of persuasion continued through as John performed other classics, such as "Crocodile Rock" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues."

Taking the stage almost unseen, Joel cut right into the crowd favorite "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant." The recharged crowd played right into the mesmerizing Joel, whose energy could not be ignored. Joel also matched John's local ties, performing his labor anthem "Allentown."

Joel even reminisced about his previous visits to Penn State. Though he said he was glad to be back, he found it odd to be in the same place with less hair.

"It's not really about having less hair though," Joel said. "It's about getting more head."

At the request of Sue Paterno, Joel even played the rarely done, "This is the Time." Belting out the chorus, Joel quickly disproved his own fears of making a mistake and performed the song flawlessly.

Where John focused more on his melodic ballads, Joel thundered through his loud, energetic songs. Both performers though shared a common enthusiasm, standing to greet the crowd between songs. John even went so far as to sign autographs for fans during breaks.

Those attending the show last night composed an amalgamation of long-time fans and youthful newcomers to the music. Kathryn Orobona (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) admitted to not really desiring to see both performers.

"I really don't like Elton John, but I've liked Billy Joel ever since 'We Didn't Start the Fire,' " Orobona said.

More seasoned fans though went to, and traveled, great lengths to see the show. Ed Nuefer of Williamsport was excited to see the show, even though he had "middle-class seats," as he described them.

"We traveled 50 miles for the show," Neufer said. "I would have gotten better seats, but they were expensive."

Even though those - young and old, parent and child, student and alumni - came with differing preferences, all came expecting a great show. And they were not disappointed.

"Elton John Expects Billy Joel To Start Writing Songs Again"
(January 17th, 2002)

Elton John and Billy Joel continue the latest edition of their joint "Face 2 Face" Tour tomorrow night (January 18th, 2002) with the first of two shows at the MCI Center in Washington, DC, before going on to multinight stands in Boston, Hartford, Connecticut, Philadelphia, and New York City, with single dates in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the mix as well.

The tour gives Joel a chance to perform his catalog of hits, even though he gave up writing pop songs after his 1993 album "River of Dreams" (his most recent release is the classical collection "Fantasies & Delusions: Music For Solo Piano)." However, John tells us that he doesn't think his friend and touring partner is finished with pop music just yet: "He seems to say, 'Well, I can't do this anymore, I can't do this anymore.' But, you know, he's not a rock and roll artist - he's a great songwriter, and great songwriters always write songs, and there'll be songs coming from Billy Joel's piano again. I'm always saying, 'Come on, come on, come on, come on,' but in good time, he'll do it again. In the meantime, he's gone off and done something else, and he goes and does lectures and stuff like that. He's enjoying himself. You know, he'll, he'll admit, 'I'm just coasting at the moment,' but I don't think that he's gonna be happy coasting."

John might feel that way, but Joel's not so sure, and he tells us that the process comes much easier to John than it ever did to him: "I once watched Elton write a song, and he had a copy of some lyrics, and he started writing music to the lyrics. And I said, 'How the hell do you do that?' I write 180 degrees the other way - I write music, and then I stick lyrics into it. So it's, everybody, to each his own."

John and Joel also performed individually and together at "The Concert For New York City" at Madison Square Garden on October 20th, 2001. While not on the album released from the show, John's "I Want Love" and the duo's take on "Your Song" are included on "The Concert For New York City" two-DVD set, which comes out January 29th, 2002.

"Four Hands, Five Nights"
Piano men Billy Joel and Elton John reunite for sold-out shows at the FleetCenter

By: Steve Morse
(January 18th, 2002)

When piano men Billy Joel and Elton John united for some stadium shows a few years back, the dates were an instant success. The fans ate them up, the box office phones rang off the hook, and a new show-business power duo was born. And that's not an easy thing to give up, especially once the promoters saw what a cash cow Billy and Elton could be.

"There is so much pressure to keep doing this," Joel said recently. The promoters "come at you with buckets of money."

Many people might wish to have such a dilemma, but Billy and Elton have made the best of it. Both are natural entertainers who appreciate each other's ivory-tickling skills - and share a sense of humor that puts listeners immediately at ease. Is it any surprise, then, that they've sold out five FleetCenter shows, which start on Tuesday? Ticket prices ranged up to $175, but those high-priced ones were the first to go.

"We're joined at the hip now," Joel said. "You could call us the Siamese piano men."

Indeed, while the two men do play with their separate bands for part of the show, they make a point of jamming together extensively every night. "I do some of his stuff, and he does some of my stuff," said Joel. "It's like a little piano band. And I get to work with his musicians, so there's a different dynamic from my own concerts."

They also made another discovery during the course of their Midas-touch relationship. "For the first couple of years, we played stadiums. Then we did a gig in an arena and said, 'Wow, this is so much better soundwise.' So we started doing arenas. We played them in the West Coast and the Midwest and the South, but we never got to the East Coast to do them. So here we come."

And Joel knows what their fans want.

"They don't want to hear new songs. They want the old stuff," he said.

Joel, however, does not want to turn into an oldies act - "I don't want to be like Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Fabian, or the Beach Boys" - so he continues to say that this latest tour with Elton might be his last for performing his pop hits. Joel hasn't written a pop song in years, having lately gone into classical music and releasing the album "Fantasies & Delusions," which topped the classical charts in the past few months, even though most of his pop fans will never hear it.

"What does a classical album sell? About 5,000 copies?" he said with a giggle.

Maybe that's why fans are so eager to see these Billy and Elton shows at the FleetCenter. It's not something that might come around again, unless the promoters have their way. And Joel recalls a conversation he had with Garth Brooks - another singer who has threatened to stop performing his hits - in which Joel told Brooks, "Don't let them talk you into working if you don't want to."

As Joel said when the profit motive is raised again, "I have enough money."

Time will tell, of course, but Joel is serious about his switch to writing classical music. His brother, Alexander, is a classical conductor in Vienna, and Joel studied classical piano for 12 years during his childhood on Long Island.

"I'm glad to be writing music without lyrics right now," he said. "It leaves room for more reflection. But I won't make a definitive decision on whether I'll ever write pop music again. I'm letting the music lead me."

Joel said that many baby boomers, in particular, have shied away from classical music because of the way it was presented to them as a snobbish, elitist genre. "We'd always hear classical people protesting about pop music: 'Oh, you kids with your pop music.' They looked at it as a bunch of noise. They weren't open to our music, so a lot of baby boomers tuned them out."

But Joel is on a crusade to "open up their ears," he said of fellow boomers, adding about classical music that "I want to feel it, not understand it." He urges listeners to "just hear the emotion in the music."

Meanwhile, though, he won't deny that he's having fun with Elton. Their barnstorming has been lucrative - and has brought a lot of pleasure to thousands of diehard fans.

"Like I say, we're joined at the hip now."

"Musician Joel Looks Back On Career"
(January 19th, 2002)

Billy Joel says if he'd been in a band all these years, "I would have broken up a long time ago."

Now he's touring with Elton John, and couldn't be happier.

"When I went with Elton, it's different than just being Billy Joel. It's Billy Joel and Elton John. I get to play Elton John music. He plays my music. We play both our music together. I play with his band. He plays with my band. ...We play piano on our own. We jam. We have piano duels. It's kinda like joining a piano band," Joel told AP Radio.

Looking back on his career, the 52 year-old said, "I was the guy. And I brought a band with me. Now let's say since 1970 I've been doing this. If I had been a band, man... I would have hated my guts. I'm one person. I can't break up."

Joel and John, 54, are on a national tour that kicked off in Washington this week.

"Billy Joel and Elton John In Piano Band"
(January 19th, 2002)

Billy Joel says if he'd been in a band they would have split up years ago.

He says being solo for more than 30 years has had its advantages.

But his current American tour with Elton John is different.

"I was the guy. And I brought a band with me. Now let's say since 1970 I've been doing this. If I had been a band, man, I would have hated my guts. I'm one person. I can't break up," said Joel.

"When I went with Elton, it's different than just being Billy Joel. It's Billy Joel and Elton John. I get to play Elton John music.

"He plays my music. We play both our music together. I play with his band. He plays with my band. We play piano on our own. We jam. We have piano duels. It's kind of like joining a piano band."

"The Piano Band: Billy Joel Talks About His Concerted Partnership In Hub With Elton John"
By: Dean Johnson
(January 21st, 2002)

Billy Joel has a simple perspective on his tour with Elton John that arrives at the FleetCenter tomorrow for five sold-out concerts.

"This is just a case of joining up with another piano player and rather than being the 'Piano Man,' this is the Piano Band," he said.

"This is the way it works," he said of the tour that is just a few dates old and will last until April. "We start together. Then Elton will do his own set, and I do a set of my stuff, and then he joins me at the end."

The pair performed at Foxboro Stadium a few years ago. Joel said this tour will be different.

"The stadium shows were longer just because of the scope of the production, so there was a little more interplay. We'd actually walk on during each other's set. But in a coliseum, there is a certain group coming just to see Elton and a certain group coming just to see me, with a certain...hopefulness we'll each do a certain amount of our own songs," he said.

"But what you want in the dynamics of a show like this," Joel added, "is a big, strong, rousing finish. So you ain't gonna get any ballads at the end, folks - it will be rocking out!"

With one obvious exception. The keyboard kings have been doing George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun" each night. "Elton knew George. He had a good relationship with him," Joel said. "We thought we had to mark his passing somehow, and that's just a great George Harrison song.

"It also has a hopeful message, a hopeful quality to it, and the last year was just so horrific for everybody, so I guess I'm George Bush and he's Tony Blair, and we're kind of in an alliance here."

Joel wanted to set the record straight about his future as a performer. Though his most recent recording, "Fantasies & Delusions," is a classical album, he said he has not turned his back on pop concerts or even pop records.

"If I get ideas for good (pop) songs, I'm not going to stop myself from writing. Is it possible I will record another pop album or song? Absolutely.....what I did say is that I will never tour again the way I had been touring for most of my career in these marathon one to two-year rock and roll tours. That, I can tell you, I will never do again."

But touring with Elton John for just a few months is a different experience, Joel insisted. "We're working together. It's a team effort, and the dynamic is very different from working on our own. Sometimes Elton leans on me, sometimes I lean on him, sometimes we kick each other's butt... There's a very healthy competition going on up there onstage."

And it isn't always easy going. "You have to be in good shape because there is a certain athleticism to what we're doing. The older you get (and both singers are now in their early 50s) the harder it is to hit the high notes and have all the breath control you need," Joel said.

"The sheer volume coming off the stage is also really quite jarring after a certain age. It's all almost like an amusement park ride," he said. "There's the sound of the crowd, and the lights in your face. Your vision gets more sensitive as you get older, so the lights and the sheer volume can actually get painful. So you feel your heart and blood pumping, your ears are pounding. It's sensory overload up there. You have to be prepared."

Joel didn't know if this tour will finally produce a live album of their collaborations, though he did say they are recording each night.

Asked if he and John had tried doing any writing together, he said, "We actually sat down once and started to put a song together, but the way we both go about writing is totally different."

"He gets a batch of lyrics handed to him and starts writing music for it. I start writing the music, and if I like the music, then I start thinking about the words," Joel explained. "So our styles are really unsuited, but writing together is not out of the question if we figure out how to do it."

Joel already has a new project waiting for him when this tour ends. Choreographer Twyla Tharp is putting together some dance routines based on several of Joel's pop and classical works. The project, with the working title "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," is expected to open in Chicago in June.

"Piano Men Don't Disappoint: John, Joel Live Up To Billing"
By: Sarah Rodman
(January 23rd, 2002)

Last night, Elton John and Billy Joel kicked off five sold out shows at the FleetCenter with a magnificent three-hour and 45-minute performance that began and ended with perhaps their best-known songs, "Your Song" and "Piano Man."

While they couldn't be more different songs and people - Joel the swaggering New Yorker with the cynical piano bar number, John the flamboyantly fabulous Brit with the sweet sentiment - the pair were justly feted by a sold-out crowd whose hopes were rewarded with a terrific performance from the twin giants of piano pop.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers began the night by saluting one another under side-by-side video images of the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes and playing a short set trading verses on "Your Song," "Just the Way You Are," and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me."

John and his stalwart band hit the stage first covering many years of his career with a somewhat odd setlist. Highlights included an incredibly galvanizing, almost religious run through the fervent "Levon," the lilting new single "I Want Love," a dramatic "Take Me to the Pilot" and a surprisingly swinging "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues." While John's playing was impeccable and his voice smooth, if missing its high end, one longed for more substantial songs then zippy hits like "I'm Still Standing" and "Crocodile Rock." The crowd loved them, however, singing along with the cartoony la-las and applauding heartily.

If Elton got more bona fide standing ovations, Joel managed to keep people on their feet for most of his set playing some of the best uptempo numbers in his catalog including exuberant opener "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," the frenetic "Prelude/Angry Young Man" and the driving "I Go To Extremes."

Or should I say, zooming, since somebody definitely gave Liberty DeVitto his pep pills last night. Joel's long-time, famously hard-hitting drummer pushed the tempos on several songs almost to the point of disaster. At times it added an exciting edge and at others it seemed like Joel had to struggle to keep up especially on the rapid-sung "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant."

But to his credit Joel was in great voice, hitting many of those old high notes with gusto and surprising sustain on songs like the pleasingly chugging "Allentown" and the now poignant "Miami 2017 (I've Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)."

While separately each man and his band had moments that were truly sublime - John's riveting, soul-drenched outro of "Rocket Man," Joel's simply gorgeous growing pains ballad "Vienna" - together they were unstoppable, pushing each other with playful competitiveness.

When the fiftysomethings regrouped the energy was crackling as they vamped their way through "The Bitch Is Back" - which found Joel strutting atop his piano - boogied loosely through a stomping "You May Be Right" - which found Elton giving Joel a mid-song massage - "Bennie and the Jets" and Jerry Lee Lewis' rollicking "Great Balls of Fire."

A poignant note was sounded when John dedicated the late, great George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun" to the recently deceased Peggy Lee. The song's shimmering harmonies and tight rhythms - with the respective bands admirably combining their efforts - were a lovely tribute to both the Beatle and the torch singer.

A few quibbles: John's divine "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," with its dramatic crescendos seems like a much more logical encore choice - both musically and for Joel's voice - than the more somber and played out "Candle In The Wind." Joel could spend less time doing his stand up shtick. While he's often very funny, with the limited time frame, more playing would've been preferable.

But these two obviously have a great time playing together and that translates to the audience in an incredibly fun and exhilarating way.

"Billy and Elton: Two Feel-Good Voices In Harmony"
By: Steve Morse
(January 23rd, 2002)

Talk to the experts and they'll agree that ever since September 11th, 2001, many concert fans are gravitating to familiar, feel-good performers who take their minds back to better times.

Enter, then, the warm and fuzzy Linus blankets of rock and roll - Billy Joel and Elton John. The two "Piano Men," with a collective 75 years of experience, have sold out five FleetCenter shows.

Tickets cost up to $175 - meaning stadium-sized, million-dollar-plus grosses each night. Last night's 3-hour, nostalgia-drenched opener was a glorious display of craft and rock and roll heart, but it was actually too long, if you can believe that.

Billy and Elton each played lengthy headlining sets, but it would have been better if they had tightened those up and had played more together. This "Face 2 Face" tour was only face to face for three songs at the beginning, then a more generous eight at the end, but that end came late.

That said, the evening was a stellar display of music and showmanship, as each artist, propelled by the unwritten competitive atmosphere, went all out to seize the audience. And each did.

Elton's set was the more party-oriented, and Billy's the more pensive (with several references to September 11th, 2001). Each was outstanding in its own way.

A confirmed New Yorker, Joel thanked the Boston audience for its support after September 11th, 2001 - and said how proud he was to be on tour with the English Elton, who is "from a country that stepped up to the plate" during the crisis. Joel also took time to perform "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)," his song about apocalyptic events in New York that was written years ago. It was a perfect choice for "The Concert for New York City" that he and Elton played a couple of months ago.

It wasn't quite as perfect last night - many people didn't recognize the little-known tune, but those who did appreciated it.

Joel and John emerged at the start (with Elton wearing an iridescent pink suit that Liberace would have loved) to harmonize on "Your Song," "Just The Way You Are" (which Joel dedicated "to my ex-number two" wife) and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," which John dedicated to "one of my ex-husbands," as the sold-out crowd of 18,500 roared.

When came Elton's long set, weaving from hoary rockers such as "Philadelphia Freedom" and "Rocket Man," through new tunes like the John Lennon-esque "I Want Love" and a compelling AIDS number, "The Ballad of The Boy With The Red Shoes." He finished with "Crocodile Rock," bowing to fans who were already hoarse from singing along.

With no set change, Joel and his band then took over, opening with the masterful sketch, "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant." He moved from lullabyes and hard-rockers, before hitting some September 11th, 2001 bases and finally peaking with "Only The Good Die Young." Then Elton rejoined him for a thrilling, if delayed, climax that included the Beatles "Here Comes the Sun" (dedicated to Peggy Lee, who passed away Monday) and "Bennie and the Jets," among other nostalgic nuggets that were just what this crowd needed to hear.

"Lucky Couple Gets To Lounge Around With Billy Joel"
By: Gayle Fee & Laura Raposa
(January 24th, 2002)

It's 1am on a Wednesday when "Piano Man" Billy Joel shuffled into the Bristol Lounge at the fab Four Seasons, still jiggy from his FleetCenter gig with Elton John.

An hour later, the pop superstar was sitting at the piano, belting out tunes and throwing a free concert for "The Longest Time" for the only people left in the bar - Billy's band, the bartender and two very happy patrons!

"It was excellent. One of the most fun nights I've ever had," said Scott Pelletier, a chef at the White Star Tavern. Pelletier was lucky enough to be in the Bristol having a nightcap with his fiancée, "Uptown Girl" Hillary Russell, when Joel decided to get in a little late-night piano practice.

"There were probably only 10 people at the bar when he came in," said Pelletier, who was at the fab Four for a dinner prepared by celeb chef Charlie Trotter. "He sat down and had a couple glasses of red wine. And then when everyone left - except us, because we weren't going anywhere! - he sat down at the piano and started to play."

Pelletier said Joel, who had just performed a rockin,' sold-out show with Sir Elton that went on for nearly four hours, played mostly classical and new stuff in the bar for another two hours.

"It was just random stuff," said the chef. "He'd play a little something, then ask the band, 'What do you think?' Then he'd try something else. When the bar closed, the bartender left, and it was only me, Hillary and the band. He played until about 4, then he stopped and said, 'I think I'm going to bed now. I'm outta here.'"

"And So It Goes."

"Scott said he and Hillary were so blown away by the impromptu show, that they've decided what their first song will be as man and wife when they tie the knot March 2nd, 2002: If you guessed "Just The Way You Are," well, "You May Be Right!"

"Review: Billy Joel and Elton John at the FleetCenter, Boston"
By: Jon Zahlaway
(January 25th, 2002)

Billy Joel and Elton John's current "Face 2 Face" tour features a spectacular light show, video screens, and two talented backing bands...all of which were completely overshadowed Thursday night (January 24th, 2002) by two chubby, balding, middle-aged guys who know how to play the hell out of a piano and whose voices are as powerful as ever.

After taking the stage for the second night of their five-night, sold-out Boston engagement - Joel dressed entirely in black and John clad in a bright pink, rhinestone-bedecked suit - the pair spent a total of almost 3 hours and 45 minutes cranking out hit after hit.

Joel and John's current co-headlining tour is the pair's fifth such outing since the mid-'90s, and continues to be one of the biggest draws in the concert industry, with ticket prices ranging from $45 to $175 and sold-out, multi-night runs already lined up throughout the Eastern Seaboard.

From the onset, the pair strove to give the crowd its money's worth. Seated behind massive grand pianos, the veteran singer-songwriters demonstrated their remarkable playing abilities and signature vocal styles. Both feats were successfully translated through a well-mixed sound set-up that kept each star's performances crisp, clear and in the forefront.

The duo got things started with three duets before each took a turn delivering a full solo set. John was up first, and he delighted the audience with an arsenal of hits that included "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," "Philadelphia Freedom," "Take Me to the Pilot" and "Rocket Man."

Slipped amid the hits were "I Want Love," "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" and "Ballad of the Boy In the Red Shoes," three songs from John's latest album, last year's "Songs from the West Coast." Those were the only songs of the entire night recorded during this millennium, and while well received, failed to elicit the kind of audience response garnered by the more well-known fare.

Between numbers, John walked his way around the stage, shaking hands, signing autographs and waving his appreciation to each corner of the full arena. He ended his solo set with a surefire crowd-pleaser, his '70s-era hit "Crocodile Rock."

Joel then took command of the psyched-up audience for a raucous set of his own that began with his much-loved "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant." For all of their similarities, the entertaining contrast between him and his British counterpart were clearly evident from the onset of the American's performance.

Whereas John's more ballad-oriented set elicited standing ovations between songs, Joel's up-tempo performance kept the crowd on its feet almost non-stop. Subtle differences were noticeable as well. While the eccentric John had between songs sipped from a can of soda that rested in an ornate, four-legged ice bucket kept nearby, Joel opted for several disposable plastic party cups set atop his piano. And while John had kept the between-song chatter to a minimum, Joel hammed it up, much to the delight of his fans.

"Thank you, Boston," he said during his first talk break, and then took a stab at affecting a Boston accent. "After the show, I hope you can remember where you pahked ya cahs."

He also joked about the poor job he did earlier in the day while cutting his own hair, which was cropped so short it was barely visible. "It's not like I can't afford to pay somebody to cut it," he quipped. "But, let's face it: it's not about having less hair; it's about getting more head."

Joel, who has not released a new album of pop material since 1993, took a moment to plug his latest release, "Fantasies & Delusions" - a collection of his own classical compositions performed by pianist Richard Joo - but assured the mainstream crowd that his set would be devoid of such material. "I think we'll pretty much stick with the old shit," he said, eliciting cheers.

And that's just what he did, barraging the audience with a litany of hits that included "Allentown," "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," "Prelude/Angry Young Man" and "I Go To Extremes." The latter number saw the pumped-up performer kick away his piano stool as he hammered away on the keys.

Joel, a native New Yorker, preceded his classic "New York State of Mind" by thanking Boston for supporting New York City in the wake of September 11th, 2001.

"I'd also like to thank you for showing up," he said, then joked, "I mean, it's one thing to pay those outrageous ticket prices - we really appreciate that; my kid's gonna go to Harvard - but a lot of people have agoraphobia these days... So thanks for coming out."

He then praised his co-headliner, as well, saying that he was "proud to be working with an Englishman. That's another country that stepped up to the plate [after September 11th, 2001]."

The night's most bizarre and simultaneously most hysterical moment also came during Joel's set, when the stout performer strapped on a guitar, headed to the front of the stage and said that his longtime guitar roadie - a man he introduced as "Chainsaw" - would join the band for a tribute to Australian rock group AC/DC, whom Joel lamented has now been twice overlooked for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"Chainsaw" - dressed in a black T-shirt and black jeans, and weighing in at somewhere in the vicinity of 250 pounds, if not more - proceeded to storm around the stage and belt out AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," backed by Joel's band and Joel himself, who chugged through some power chords on his electric guitar. The audience went wild.

Joel's set ended with the frolicking '80s-era hit "Only The Good Die Young," after which both he and John - who was now dressed in an aquamarine suit and matching shoes - returned to the stage for a number of duets.

The half-dozen shared tunes included Joel's "My Life" and "You May Be Right," John's "The Bitch Is Back" and "Bennie and the Jets," and cover versions of the late George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun" and Jerry Lee Lewis' thunderous piano classic, "Great Balls of Fire."

The duo's pair of encore numbers were slower-paced, but Joel's apropos "Piano Man" - during which the two jubilant stars stopped the performance to listen to the capacity crowd belt out the chorus - was a fitting finale.

"Joel-Tharp Teaming Up For 'Project'"
By: Chris Jones
(January 26th, 2002)

A new Broadway musical involving a collaboration between singer-songwriter Billy Joel and choreographer Twyla Tharp will have its world premiere in Chicago this summer.

Provisionally titled "The Thoel Project," the high-profile show is slated to begin performances at a still-unannounced Loop theater in June.

A Broadway opening is expected in the fall.

The book for the show reportedly involves the Vietnam War and focuses on three longtime male friends, one of whom dies in the conflict. Although the remaining two friends are devastated by the loss, they ultimately emerge from the drug scene of the 1970s to brighter times.

In past interviews about the project, Joel has said that Tharp put together the concept for the show out of previously recorded Joel material using a minimal amount of dialogue. More recent reports have said that Joel will also be contributing original material. In interviews, Tharp has said that the show may be renamed after one of Joel's songs and that such well-known numbers as "Big Shot," "An Innocent Man" and "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" will likely be in the show.

Joel has said the piece will feature a live band performing Joel covers, replete with a live vocalist said to resemble the singer. It will mark his Broadway debut.

A spokesman for the New York producers, the Nederlander Organization, said it was "premature to confirm any of the details at this time."

Although widely acclaimed in modern dance, Tharp has endured a difficult relationship with Broadway - her controversial 1996 direction of the movie-musical "Singin' the Rain" was widely panned but managed to eke out a respectable run. But among commercial producers looking to appeal to non-traditional theater audiences, Joel's name and fan base are regarded as golden.

"Billy Joel, MusiCares 2002 'Person of The Year,' to be Honored by Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora, Garth Brooks, Richard Joo, Diana Krall, and Rob Thomas"
(January 29th, 2002)

The 12th Annual Gala Tribute to Benefit MusiCares' Financial

Assistance Program Will be Held February 25th, 2002 in Los Angeles

Who: Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora, Garth Brooks, Richard Joo, Diana Krall, Rob Thomas, and numerous other artists and celebrities to be announced.

What: GRAMMY(R)-winning artist Billy Joel will be honored at the 12th Annual MusiCares(R) Person Of The Year tribute dinner for his accomplishments as a musician and as a humanitarian. The "Person of The Year" dinner features a star-studded concert of tribute performances by many of today's biggest music stars. Among the highlights of the gala event is a prestigious silent auction featuring collectibles such as music and sports memorabilia, artwork and luxury items. Proceeds provide essential support for MusiCares' Financial Assistance Program, which ensures that music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need.

Where: Century Plaza Hotel, Olympic Ballroom / 2025 Avenue of The Star / Los Angeles, California

When: 6pm - Press Conference. Preliminary Presentation with Billy Joel and other tribute artists, Olympic Ballroom. Press Check In on Plaza Level.

6pm - Red Carpet Arrivals by artists and celebs not participating in Press Conference (street level in front of hotel).

6pm - Silent Auction/Cocktail Reception begins

7:30pm - Dinner

9pm - Tribute performances begin Mult box feed/Access to the event itself will not be available.

Comments: The above mentioned artists will be honoring Joel by participating in the preliminary presentation and the concert itself. The MusiCares Foundation was established by the Recording Academy in 1989 to promote wellness through emergency financial assistance, addiction recovery programs and outreach and leadership activities. For more information about MusiCares and the "Person of The Year" tribute to Billy Joel, please visit

"Musicians To Pay Tribute To Billy Joel"
Joel Will Be Honored As MusiCares "Person of The Year" on February 25th, 2002

(January 29th, 2002)

Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora, Garth Brooks, Richard Joo, Diana Krall, Rob Thomas, and numerous other artists and celebrities will partake in a gala dinner honoring Billy Joel as the 2002 MusiCares "Person of The Year" on February 25th, 2002 in Los Angeles.

The event will pay tribute to Joel's accomplishments as a musician and humanitarian. The "Person of The Year" dinner features a concert of tribute performances by many of today's biggest music stars. The event will also include a silent auction featuring collectibles such as music and sports memorabilia, artwork and luxury items. Proceeds provide essential support for MusiCares' Financial Assistance Program, which ensures that music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need.

Previous MusiCares "Person of The Year" honorees include Paul Simon, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Luciano Pavarotti, Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Gloria Estefan, Natalie Cole, Bonnie Raitt and David Crosby.

The MusiCares Foundation focuses its attention on human service issues which directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. It is dedicated to promoting wellness through emergency financial assistance, addiction recovery programs, and outreach and leadership programs.

"Billy Joel Gives OK to October Show"
By: Patrick Pacheco
(January 30th, 2002)

Billy Joel is joining the fraternity of pop composers, including Barry Manilow, Harry Connick Jr., Paul Simon, and Pete Townshend, who've gone Broadway.

After a successful workshop last October, his all-song-and- dance collaboration with choreographer Twyla Tharp (temporarily titled "The Thoel Project") will receive a full production this year, trying out in Chicago over the summer and opening on Broadway in October.

The show is stitched together with dance numbers set to pre- existing pop hits, but, according to sources, the ensemble of 16 dancers will also feature a live band and vocalist. (Michael Cavanaugh, a Las Vegas singer and Joel soundalike, was featured in the workshop).

The plot has been described as the story of three friends who are drafted into the Vietnam War. When one is killed, the emotional fallout on the survivors leads to drugs, conflict and ultimately a redemption of sorts. Songs featured include Joel's hits "An Innocent Man," "The River of Dreams," "Big Shot" and "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)."

Although Joel's actual participation is said to be minimal, his permission to proceed was essential. At "The Concert for New York City" last fall, he told reporters that he was pleased with the workshop and excited to be a part of Broadway. "I grew up listening to that music," he said.

Tharp is famous for having fused jazz, tap, modern dance and ballet in her work. Her Broadway track record has been spotty. She debuted in 1981 with "The Catherine Wheel" with David Byrne, and choreographed the 1985 flop "Singin' In The Rain."

Show spokesman John Barlow would not confirm any details but said an official announcement is expected tomorrow.

"Piano Men"

By: Matt Ashare
(January 31st, 2002)

Elton John has just released his best album in years - "Songs from the West Coast" (Rocket/Universal). And it’s no accident that the disc’s such a pleasantly solid surprise. For starters, Bernie Taupin, the lyricist who collaborated so closely with him on all those classic ’70s albums, is back, and so is that sly sense of melody that made "Daniel," "Your Song," and "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" such enduring classics. And along with Taupin, John invited guitarist Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson - the two players who formed the core of Elton’s ’70s bands - to return to active duty, not just on the CD but also for the tour that brought them to the FleetCenter for five sold-out nights of performance, beginning a week ago Tuesday and finishing up this Saturday.

The bad news is that John has once again opted to share the spotlight with fellow piano man Billy Joel. The gimmick is simple - you get Elton John and Billy Joel, two mainstream heavyweights, "Face 2 Face" on one stage. What that amounted to a week ago Tuesday was an opening segment devoted, as Joel put it, to "mushy love ballads" in which John and Joel sat facing each other at giant grand pianos, Elton in an outlandish hot pink get-up that resembled pajamas turned into a formal suit, Joel in a cool and reserved black blazer. They duetted on "Your Song," "Just the Way You Are," and "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me," with Elton letting Billy handle the lion’s share of the vocals. And then, poof, Joel and his piano were gone and Elton was left to lead his band through a full set of oldies peppered with a couple of tracks from the new disc. For all his flamboyance, John is an artist who - 20 years after writing a self-assertive anthem called "I’m Still Standing" - not only knows his limitations but is comfortable with them. So he didn’t even try to hit the high notes on the chorus of "Rocket Man," and he more or less let the songs he and Taupin have written together speak for themselves.

Joel, on the other hand, seemed determined to prove that age hasn't taken anything away from him except, perhaps, a bit of hair. He showboated to no end at the piano, and he sang "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" as if he were trying to impersonate Mariah Carey. It was embarrassing and, to my ears, unbearable. So I left. A full set of prime Elton John is what I’d come for, and a full set of prime Elton John is what I got.

"Connecticut Fans Love Them 'Just The Way They Are'"
By: Roger Catlin
(January 31st, 2002)

The "Face 2 Face" tour pairing pop "Piano Men" Billy Joel and Elton John at the Hartford Civic Center next week won't just be the biggest-grossing rock show in the city's history.

It likely also will be the largest-grossing entertainment event of any kind in state history.

The four sold-out performances in Hartford Monday, Wednesday and the following Friday and Saturday will gross more than $7 million.

That more than doubles the previous high set by the Rolling Stones in March 1999. Charging up to $250 for two sell-outs at the Civic Center only managed to gross $3.2 million on sales of 31,201 tickets.

Even high-priced stops by Broadway shows like "Phantom of the Opera," which completed a weeklong run at the Bushnell last week, only managed to pull in an estimated average gross of $1 million.

What's more, three of the four "Face 2 Face" shows in Hartford all sold-out within hours the day they were put on sale. Tickets for the second show put on sale, after the first one sold out so fast, were gone in two days.

And oddly, tickets for successive shows sold-out faster and faster.

Locked in between a five-night stand in Boston and a six-night stand in Philadelphia, the total number of shows in Hartford was limited to four.

But according to promoter Jim Koplik of Clear Channel Entertainment, "We could have done seven or eight shows here."

What's The Attraction?

What makes these two pop stars, now in their 50s, whose biggest hits came decades ago, the biggest moneymakers ever locally?

"These two acts are made for Connecticut," Koplik says. "Their audiences are upscale, a demo that fits Connecticut very well," he says. "They're two perfect artists in a perfect market for them."

Besides, the longtime promoter added, "Billy Joel alone is the most popular live artist indoors in the history of Connecticut."

The Dave Matthews Band may have drawn more people in Hartford in a single engagement, selling 77,804 tickets for a three-night stint at the Meadows Music Theatre in August 1999. But Joel has twice sold-out four nights at the Civic Center, a record he's repeating on the current tour with John.

"Then you put Elton John, who is also one of the most popular artists in the history of Connecticut, and you have something special," Koplik says.

Koplik fondly remembers John's first show in the state; he even can rattle off the date off the top of his head: September 29th, 1972. "It was the last show at the old New Haven Arena," he says. "At the end of the show, Elton threw candy at the audience."

Joel has had memorable shows in the state as well. There was a mad scramble for tickets for a pair of club dates at Toad's Place in July 1980. One song recorded there, "Los Angelenos," ended up on his 1981 "Songs In The Attic" album.

New Haven Said, "No"

The Billy Joel/Elton John joint tour began in 1994 as a stadium-only event, making its only New England stop in Foxboro. There was an effort to book a show at New Haven's Yale Bowl, where it would have been the first rock show in 24 years. But city officials blocked it, and the tour expanded elsewhere; a fifth night at Giants Stadium eclipsed a date being held for New Haven.

The duo went on tour again in 1995 and 1998, playing Japan, Australia, Europe and New Zealand. When it returned to the United States last year, it became the fifth-highest money-making tour of 2001, grossing $57.2 million in 31 shows.

Part of is success is that, besides performing full 12-song sets with their own bands, the two join forces on nearly a dozen more songs at the beginning and end of the 3½-hour show.

Audiences weren't deterred by the tour's prices of $176.50, $86.50, and $46.50.

"I don't think it's a lot of money for this type of show," says Koplik. "I don't think the public felt that way either. Believe me, the public will not buy tickets if they think they're too high."

Billboard Standings

You wouldn't have guessed the pair's popularity from current Billboard standings. John's current album, "Songs From The West Coast," is languishing at #177 on the Billboard charts, though its single "I Want Love" is in the adult contemporary Top 20.

His colleague's hit collection "The Essential Billy Joel" is doing even worse, at #197. But an album of his classical work, "Fantasies & Delusions," as performed by Richard Joo, is topping the Billboard classical charts for a 16th consecutive week.

Joel isn't doing his classical work in concert, although John is dropping in "I Want Love" as one of three new songs in his set.

Joel hasn't recorded a new pop song since his "River of Dreams" album nine years ago.

"He doesn't need an album out," Koplik says. "People go to see Billy Joel for history. Artists like Billy and Elton, they don't need new recordings to continue."