Monday, March 28, 2011

Billy Joel 'Shea Stadium' DVD+CD review

Billy Joel - Live at Shea Stadium: The Concert, released earlier this month on Legacy Recordings, just entered the Billboard Top Music DVD/Video chart at #1.

Sonically and visually, it is one of the best music DVDs I've seen so far in 2011, boasting a fantastic setlist and strong performances all around (kudos to longtime percussionist/backing singer Crystal Talifero). The man himself is in good vocal form and seems to be having a blast (exclaiming at one point: "this is the best job in the world" and dedicating "Summer, Highland Falls" to all the manic depressives in the crowd).

Joel's still fast-fingered piano work during "Prelude/Angry Young Man," trumpeter Carl Fisher's solo turn amid the jazzy "Zanzibar," the string section's classical sweetening on "Ballad of Billy the Kid" and "2017: I've Seen the Lights Go Out on Bradway" and the quiet, stirring lead vocal with military personnel on the chorus of "Goodnight Saigon" are among the many highlights here. 

And then there are the special guests: John Mayer was the perfect choice to add weepy guitar lines on "This is the Time" as was Tony Bennett to duet on "New York State of Mind." For the most part, Joel let the guests take the lead vocal reigns as he played piano, added backing vocals ("My Generation," with Roger Daltrey; "Pink Houses," with John Mellencamp) or just looked on in awe (Paul McCartney on "I Saw Her Standing There," "Let it Be").

Watching it reminded me of the memorable local shows I saw Joel do in Feb. 2008 (Honda Center/Anaheim) and April 2006 (Staples Center/LA).  

Read more details below. 

Available in a 2 CD/1 DVD set, stand-alone DVD or Blu-ray disc, the set documents the last shows ever at Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. With a running time of 155 minutes, the concert also includes appearances from Garth Brooks ("Shameless") and Steven Tyler ("Walk This Way").

Joel played to a combined audience of 110,000 people on July 16 & 18, 2008. His two Shea shows sold out in less than an hour. The Bronx-born, Long Island-raised New York native became the only artist ever to have performed at Yankee, Giants and Shea Stadium, the latter venue having ushered in the stadium rock era with an iconic Beatles performance in 1965.

PBS-TV series Great Performances premiered a special broadcast edition of Billy Joel - Live At Shea Stadium during the 2011 March Pledge Drive. Look for possible repeat affiliate airings in the future.

Built in 1964, Shea Stadium was the Mets' home for 45 years. After two World Series victories, the last section of Shea Stadium was demolished in February 2009 to make way for the new CitiField. "The Last Play at Shea' was one of the most memorable concerts I have ever performed," said Billy Joel.

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