The piano tag-team of Sir Elton John and Billy Joel, appearing together on the 2002 Face To Face Tour, ended their three night engagement at the MCI Center on Sunday, January 20, 2002. After having attended opening night of the tour, I decided to return for another performance of this dynamic duo.
The concert commenced as two pianos rose up from the stage floor. Joel entered from the right first, followed by John on the left. B.J. wore a black suit while E.J. Wore a red glitter suit. Two circular video screens were positioned above the stage. This final concert featured 35 songs, weaving popular classics and powerful covers in solo and duet performances.
Both Elton John and Billy Joel were energetic in performance. Sounding great and having fun together on stage throughout the show, this piano pair obviously enjoy each other's company. For John, his memorable hits were met with enthusiastic applause. Three songs performed from his new CD, Songs from the West Coast, did not generate the same response.
When introducing "Summer, Highland Falls", Joel said, "This song wasn't a hit, but it's popular with people with manic depression." His comment may be in reference to the lyric "It's either sadness or euphoria." Joel played a piece from his new classical music CD as an intro to "Lullabye" He introduced this by saying, "I can't play this sh--, but I can imagine it in my head and write it down". Another pianist performs on the new CD.
John and Joel returned to the stage together later in the program for a six song duet. All of these songs were repeated from the January 13th performance. Once again, John and Joel performed the Harrison-penned classic "Here Comes the Sun", as a tribute to the recently departed George Harrison. Their version was faithful to the original with a similar arrangement.
During "The Bitch Is Back", Joel danced on his piano, and Elton put one foot up on his piano. For the introduction to "Great Balls Of Fire", John said the song was about Joel's testicles. Joel (in a Chinese accent) said,"Tight pants are like cheap hotel; there's no ballroom". Joel drank from a blue plastic cup and a red plastic cup on top of the piano. John drank from a can kept on ice in a spittoon behind his piano bench.
Elton John and Billy Joel sans their support bands came back for two encores. John had changed into a grunge look of a pea-green and yellow zippered jacket with red plaid pajama pants. Their first encore duet was "Candle in the Wind" followed with "Piano Man".
The third and final night in Washington, D.C., was basically the same performance with minor exceptions. E.J. and B.J. opened with the same three duets. Elton John's solo set dropped one number, "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)". An awesome repeat performance by two major musical legends, it was a tremendous concert with a mixed selection of hits and some new material by two legendary performers.
Just before showtime, I bought a ticket with a face value of $99.75 (including handling and facility fees) for $50. I sat in Section 212, which was at the same level as the luxury suites. I was on Billy's side (if the stage was at 12:00, I was at 5:00). My view of the screen was obstructed, but I had a great view of the stage.
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 20th 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 * Scenes From An Italian Restaurant - Billy * Allentown - Billy * Summer, Highland Falls - Billy * Anthony's Song (Moving Out)/piano outro from Layla - Billy * Prelude/Angry Young Man - Billy * Intro from Fantasies And Delusions/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 * 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
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Two Legends Two
Elton John & Billy Joel live at MCI
by Jeff Root