Review of Elton John and Billy Joel at the Oracle Arena, Oakland, February 13th 2010

Review by Sin Silver, February 2010

After cancelling their much anticipated November show the crowd waited with baited breath for the two piano legends, John and Joel, to take the stage at Oracle Arena, Oakland. The crowd, mostly older, consisted of the Danville glitterati with plenty of well kept cougars and metrosexuals to boot.

The opening number ‘Your song’ from the catalogue of Elton John was performed beautifully by both musicians face2face. This would continue throughout the night, both John and Joel, covering each other’s music – a real musical treat.

It was undoubtedly a hit parade as the two legends sang ‘Just the Way you Are’, ‘My Life’ and the particularly memorable, ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me’.

The stage, complete with two grand pianos facing each other, was further enhanced by a terrific light show. The sun literally felt like it was going down at the end of their first set.

Then, it was Elton’s time to take the solo stage. Complete with a 5 piece back up band, he weaved his way through many hits which is clearly what the crowd wanted. When he played ‘Madman across the Water’, the title track from his second album, my whoops and hollers were remarkably solitary. It was a different story, when he played ‘Levon’, ‘Tiny Dancer’, ‘Yellowbrick Road’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Rocketman’.

Elton’s voice has obviously seen better days but his beautiful phrasing and innate musicality veers around this loss well. His piano playing: absolutely and utterly stupendous - some of the best rock and roll piano playing - period.

When Billy took the stage, his years of playing bars shone through as he thrilled the crowd with witty, self – deprecating anecdotes. He balanced his set with beautiful ballads such as ‘Always a Woman to Me’ with much more upbeat songs such as ‘Only the Good Die Young’. He actually stepped out from behind the piano to perform ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’. Such antics really energized the crowd and it was clear that Joel hasn’t lost a beat.

Finally, when the two returned to play together, they closed the show with such legendary classics as ‘Uptown Girl’ and ‘Bennie and the Jets’. ‘Candle in the wind’ was particularly heartfelt and even ‘Piano man’ which has been done to death, had new life breathed into it. Such was the effect of having two legends share and interpret each other’s songs.

The only cover of the night was a snippet of Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Dance to the music’, during Joel’s ‘River of Dreams’. However, the crowd wanted hits – that’s what they got.

Two legends, face2 face - one incredible night.