The 2002 Face to Face Tour featuring Sir Elton John and Billy Joel opened at the MCI Center on Sunday, January 13, 2002, in Washington, D.C. The 37 song set featured alternating hits and classics of these two top notch entertainers along with some selective cover tunes as duets.

    Two pianos began to rise up from below the stage at 7:42 P.M. Billy Joel entered from the right, followed by Elton John on the left. Joel wore a black suit, while John wore a light blue suit. Two round screens were positioned above the stage. The pop pianists performed three duets before their individual sets. These duets included "Your Song", "Just The Way You Are", and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me. The duo have a strong stage rapport between the them.

    As Joel left the stage for Elton's solo stand, his piano sank below the stage. Elton delivered multiple stage favorites from his concert cannon comprising "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding", "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", "Philadelphia Freedom", "I Want Love", "Rocket Man", "Take Me To The Pilot", "Levon", "Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes", "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues", "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore", "I'm Still Standing", "Crocodile Rock", and "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)".

    Elton's hits were greeted with a lot more enthusiasm than the three songs from his new disc, Songs From The West Coast. While introducing "I Want Love", he mentioned that Robert Downey, Jr., and Justin Timberlake starred in videos for the first two singles. He added, "Their combined ages are less than mine .... which is a pisser, but who gives a sh--".

    When John left the stage, there was a two-minute break to set up for Billy's solo section. Billy delighted the audience with his stage staples "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant", "Allentown", "Don't Ask Me Why", "Vienna", "Prelude/Angry Young Man", "Lullabye", "River Of Dreams", "Miami 2017", "New York State Of Mind", "I Go To Extremes", "Don't Be Cruel" (spotlighting an impassioned Elvis imitation), "We Didn't Start The Fire", and "Only The Good Die Young". After Joel's first song, the camera zoomed in on the back of his head. He commented "I've lost a lot of hair, but that's okay. I'm getting more head." He then turned around to grin slyly at the camera.

    With another two-minute interlude, the kings of the keyboards returned together on stage to pound out several more duets to close the concert. Their vocal harmonizing adorned "My Life", "Here Comes The Sun", "The Bitch Is Back", "You May Be Right", "Bennie And The Jets", and the American classic rocker by Jerry Lee Lewis, "Great Balls Of Fire" which closed the MCI performance.

    John and Joel sang the 1969 Abbey Road classic "Here Comes the Sun" together as a tribute to the late George Harrison. Their version was faithful to the original Beatles recording. The arrangement was the same with Elton and Billy sounding like George, and the guitars were up front in the mix. Joel also made a reference to John Lennon during band introductions. As part of his introduction of Crystal Talifero (vocals, percussion, saxophone), he mentioned that she was a new mother, and he began to sing the first line of "Mother" by John Lennon.

    For the encore, Elton John now wearing a long dark coat and a pink scarf and Billy Joel returned to the stage without the support of their back-up bands. The duo played the emotional "Candle in the Wind" and the prolific "Piano Man". The concert came to an end at 11:15 P.M. It was a wonderful evening with a great selection of hits (and three new songs) by two legendary performers!

    This Face to Face Tour 2002 is the fifth outing together for Captain Fantastic and the Piano Man. The keysmen have dueled on North American tours in 1994, 1995, 1998, and in 2001. Most recently, the tinkering duo appeared together at the Concert for New York City last October to support the heroes, survivors, and victims of 9-11.

    Elton and Billy were energetic, in great voice, and seemed to have fun throughout the show. E.J. and B.J. had another two performances on their schedule at the MCI Center before the tour left the Capitol city. For those who enjoy hearing these songs live, a great deal of the tunes performed can be found on the recent live releases by both pianists in solo performance. John's live One Night Only - The Greatest Hits, issued in November 2000, and Joel's live 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert, released May 2000, both feature many of the numbers from this set.

January 13th setlist: Your Song - duet * Just The Way You Are - duet * Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me - duet * Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding - Elton * Someone Saved My Life Tonight - Elton * Philadelphia Freedom - Elton * I Want Love - Elton * Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long Long Time) - Elton * Take Me To The Pilot - Elton * Levon - Elton * Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes - Elton * I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues - Elton * This Train Don't Stop There Anymore - Elton * I'm Still Standing - Elton * Crocodile Rock - Elton * Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) - Elton * Scenes From An Italian Restaurant - Billy * Allentown - Billy * Don't Ask Me Why - Billy * Vienna - Billy * Prelude/Angry Young Man - Billy * Lullabye - Billy * River Of Dreams - Billy * Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway) - Billy * New York State Of Mind - Billy * I Go To Extremes - Billy * Don't Be Cruel - Billy * We Didn't Start The Fire - Billy * Only The Good Die Young - Billy * My Life - duet * Here Comes The Sun - duet * The Bitch Is Back - duet * You May Be Right - duet * Bennie And The Jets - duet * Great Balls Of Fire - duet * Encores: Candle In The Wind - duet * Piano Man - duet

RockonTour   Issue #4
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2002 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

Twenty Fingers please on the keys
Elton John & Billy Joel launch Tour in D.C.

by Jeff Root