Concert review: Billy Joel and Elton John give Salt Lake City fans a show to remember

Published: Saturday, Feb. 20 2010 12:13 a.m. MST

Billy Joel and Elton John goof around prior to performing in concert at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

FACE 2 FACE TOUR with BILLY JOEL AND ELTON JOHN, EnergySolutions Arena, Feb. 19

Captain Fantastic and the Piano Man made an appearance at the EnergySolutions Arena Friday night.

Sir Elton John and Billy Joel returned to Utah with their Face 2 Face tour and took the nearly sold-out audience on a trip that went from "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" to beyond the yellow-brick road.

With no opening act, the two were able to fit their biggest career hits into one 3½-hour show.

They craftily teamed their voices and pianos on sentimental works such as John's show opener "Your Song" and continued with "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me," during which they traded verses.

They got rocking with their combined bands for Joel's "My Life" and then John took the stage for his solo set that included "Funeral for a Friend," "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and "Madman Across the Water."

John was healthy and happy, after suffering a bout with H1N1 that caused the Salt Lake show to be rescheduled. In fact, John was keen to shoot smiles into the audience in a way that seemed to ask his fans if he was doing OK.

The audience, of course, had no choice but to scream its approval for "Levon," "Tiny Dancer," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Rocket Man."

John's longtime guitarist Davey Johnstone's leads added the finishing touches to the set that also included "Philadelphia Freedom," "I'm Still Standing" and "Crocodile Rock."

Joel's set kicked off with the furious piano pounding of "Angry Young Man," "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" and "Allentown."

The lovable crassness of the New York native only added authenticity to his story songs like "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and "Zanzibar."

He forsook his piano and strapped on the guitar for "We Didn't Start the Fire" and jerked around a microphone during "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me."

The bald Joel's self-deprecating humor emerged when he introduced himself to the audience as "Billy Joel's father."

"Billy's at home messing with his hair," he said.

The set also included "River of Dreams," "Don't Ask Me Why," "She's Always a Woman" and "Only the Good Die Young."

John and Joel and their bands teamed for a rocking encore which had them playing off each other during "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," "Uptown Girl," "You May Be Right" and "Bennie and the Jets."

Then on two sentimental notes, the pianists complemented each other without the bands during "Candle in the Wind" and "Piano Man."

While the two friends obviously share a love for the piano, they have different approaches. John's the English gentleman whose fingers play with precision and passion. Joel, on the other hand, plays like a gunslinger and gets the job done.

With an array of spotlights, LED stage lights and a crisp mix, the two old-school rockers brought the past to the present in a show that fans will remember for the rest of their lives.

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