DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Billy Joel - 'Live At Shea Stadium' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 10, 2011    
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A great value for money.

There are two sides to Billy Joel's recording career (which for the record ended in 1993 with 'River Of Dreams'): pre and post marriage to former supermodel Christie Brinkley. 'Uptown Girl' may have exposed his music to the masses but it doesn't accurately represent his back catalogue. There is so much more to his music than the chart hits and that one song. This excellent double CD and DVD package is not only a greatest hits of sorts, but Mr Joel has also been shrewd and handpicked some long forgotten gems. He has been touring without any new music since 1993 yet he continues to play to stadiums in North America almost every year, and when he came back to the UK in 2006 after a decade or so away it completely sold out. It seems his lack of interest in recording has paid dividends. His music sounds much better these days.

The sound quality on the CD is not as sharp as '12 Gardens' from a few years back yet the set list does differ, but only slightly. Here, he includes the excellent 'Captain Jack' and the wonderful 'Summer, Highland Falls.' Most of Joel's best songs were not hits and they predate 1983's 'An Innocent Man.' Joel is at his best when he sits on the piano and plays; he sounds wonderful on 'Zanzibar', which he has thankfully revived in recent years. John Meyer makes a guest appearance during 'This Is The Time' and other guests include Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett and Garth Brooks (CD only) while the DVD has bonus material which features performances from Steve Tyler, John Mellencamp and Roger Daltrey. For reference, the CD features alternate versions of the songs: Joel played two nights (16/18 July 2008) at Shea Stadium in front of a combined audience of 110,000 fans before it was knocked down when the NY Mets moved elsewhere. Joel isn't as energetic as he once was but somehow his voice sounds much better – deeper and more meaningful.

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Plagued by his personal demons in the past (and present), Joel has got himself together and looks in great shape; slimmer, well groomed and tanned. Narrated by Alec Baldwin, the 90 minute documentary, which features archive footage of the stadium and even animation, is excellent. Sure, '12 Gardens' is a better CD set than 'Live At Shea Stadium', but this package is worth it for the DVD alone. All in all, it's great value for money and finely represents a modern American musical icon. He should be held in the same breath as Springsteen, Young and Dylan et al.

Neil Daniels

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