Billy Joel is one of the most prolific pop musicians in history -- and still one of the most popular, thanks in part to his tireless touring. Yet audiences haven’t seen a new album from him in years. Will he ever write again?
IT’S SIX O’CLOCK ON A SATURDAY, AN HOUR TILL THE CROWD SHUFFLES IN, AND BILLY JOEL, CLAD IN KHAKI SHORTS, A PLAIN GRAY TEE, AND A TAN BALL CAP, IS EXACTLY AS YOU’D EXPECT HIM TO BE AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: SITTING IN FRONT OF A PIANO, QUICK WITH A JOKE. THERE ARE ABOUT TWO HOURS UNTIL JOEL AND HIS TOUR MATE, SIR ELTON JOHN, WILL STRIDE OUT ONSTAGE -- JOEL TO THE STRAINS OF “YANKEE DOODLE DANDY,” SIR ELTON TO “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN” -- AND BANG OUT AN ASSORTMENT OF ADULT-CONTEMPORARY POP FAVORITES, SOMETHING THEY’VE DONE TOGETHER OFF AND ON FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS.
“Don’t expect much,” Joel cautions moments before he takes the stage at San Antonio’s AT&T Center for sound check. “We usually don’t do our own stuff [at sound check]. We like to mess with the sound guys.” He grins through his thin gray beard.