Billy Joel & Sting

They both shared a similar sense of humor and an interest in exploring darker side of life, with popular deep cuts such as “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” revealing Joel’s unacknowledging lyricism and Ira Gershwin-like ability for finding rhyme.

Sting, however, truly stole the show. He invited reggae fusionist Shaggy onstage for a duet performance of Piano Man’s iconic “Englishman in New York”. This came as an unexpected delight for an already celebratory crowd.

The Nylon Curtain

Joel established himself as a mature artist with his 1982 release. With songs such as “Goodnight Saigon” and “Allentown”, Joel explored more serious life dramas that went beyond New York suburbia – an achievement not achieved on earlier albums like The Stranger, 52nd Street or Glass Houses.

His journey to the Soviet Union provided him with an abundance of real-life experiences which he used as fodder for songwriting. “She’s Right on Time” stands in stark contrast to “Goodnight Saigon”, opening up this album.

The Nylon Curtain marks Joel’s first album since Streetlife Serenade where he does not utilize an orchestral saxophonist regularly, instead opting to employ bassist Doug Stegmeyer, drummer Liberty DeVitto and guitarists David Brown and Russell Javors instead – producing an atmospheric sound enhanced by piano.

Songs in the Attic

Songs in the Attic is Billy Joel’s compilation of live performances recorded at Sparks club on Long Island. His aim was to present an all-inclusive picture of his music; live versions proved far superior than studio ones (excepting perhaps “New York State of Mind”, which still sounded good either way!).

This concert assembles songs from almost all albums by Joel. This allows listeners to appreciate his growth as an artist; his musicianship has improved greatly since Cold Spring Harbor; even “Miami 2017” sounds fuller and stronger here.

As a special treat, Sting performs two songs from his 1999 Brand New Day album as an added treat. This was his first public duet with Billy and it went well; their musical partnership proved very fruitful throughout their relationship and friendship lasted many years.

The Stranger

Joel created an image of loneliness as the piano chords and whistling that began this track conveyed an atmosphere of loneliness in search of a home, only for Billy and his band to break out with a rocker that took its cue from this tune’s opening theme – depicting suburban malaise as it did, ultimately helping Joel secure his first record deal with Columbia Records.

Even Joel’s harshest critics must recognize The Stranger as an all-time classic album; its songs capture our hopes, fears and memories like no other record could do. No wonder it became one of Joel’s first No. 1 records and cemented his place as one of pop music’s leading forces.

New York State of Mind

Joel managed to keep fans engaged amidst an evening filled with familiar favorites by injecting playful musical digressions and an almost improvised looseness into his set list. Additionally, he extended some songs such as “Walking on the Moon” and an unforgettable rendition of 1983’s Vienna that was awarded first place through an informal crowd vote.

Sting was equally attentive, welcoming the new material with affection and purpose. Vocally he was strong though his higher notes didn’t have quite the oomph as in earlier days and occasionally required assistance from middle harmony singers.

One might have expected Joel and Sting to reunite for a duet of “Englishman in New York,” as Sting performed it at benefit concerts held for Shea Stadium prior to its demolition in 2008. Instead, reggae-fusion icon Shaggy burst onto stage alongside Joel to finish singing it, marking an appropriate endpoint to an evening that honored both artists’ contributions to pop music.