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Elton John and Billy Joel Live at Wrigley Field, Piano to Piano

Elton John
and Billy Joel‘s hotly anticipated pair of sold-out shows at Wrigley Field this past week had thousands of Chicagoans dancing in the bleachers… and the streets. The two legendary piano men played three hour sets to roaring fans on Thursday July 16 and then again last night as part of their “Face 2 Face” tour.

I had never seen such a large mass of people on Addison and Waveland, the streets that surround the stadium. Fans were sure excited to hear the show for free. Baby boomers were singing, fratboys were bouncing around, hipsters were doing interpretive dances and couples were snuggling up. The predominantly white crowd was having a blast, like they were at an outdoor festival.

Meanwhile, those in the stadium were sitting politely, occasionally belting out a chorus or two. Oh, some of them were wild, I guess, but for the most part, it was the kind of show that would make grandma happy. Elton and Billy pulled no punches, performing hit after hit after hit with no fancy re-arrangements. I swear, I thought I was listening to Oldies 94.7 at one point. But that was just fine for the fans. In these troubling times, they want things safe and predictable.

The first show began with Elton and Billy facing each other in a dueling pianos-like set-up. They stormed through such classics as “Your Song” and “My Life” before Elton took center stage alone. He played about an hours worth of obvious hits like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Crocodile Rock”, which had the crowd screaming the “Na na na” refrain at a volume so high that I’m surprised the ground wasn’t shaking.

I was hoping to hear “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” but, hey, ya can’t have it all. Then Billy took over and did his obvious setlist, from “Only the Good Die Young” to “It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll to Me”. My personal favorite was “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, perhaps because it’s really eighties and it’s the only one of his singles that I haven’t heard a billion times on the radio.

The legends returned to the dueling pianos-like set-up for the encore, which consisted again of exactly what you’d expect: “Bennie and the Jets” (the crowd favorite outside the stadium), “Uptown Girl”, “Candle in the Wind” and “Piano Man” (the official anthem and karaoke favorite of white America). When the lights finally dimmed, the crowd poured out of Wrigley Field and joined the masses in the street, causing major traffic congestion.

As for Tuesday’s show, well, it was exactly the same, even down to the encore. That’s okay, though. Elton and Billy delivered the goods, giving people exactly what they wanted. If you’re an old fogie paying $150 for a ticket, then you better be hearing “Rocket Man” or there’s gonna be trouble. More pics below, courtesy of the Chicago Sun Times.



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