Billy Joel is one of those performers who must be seen live no matter what kind of music you listen to. Having been a fan for many years but unfortunately living in the New York metro area where one must barter kidneys and firstborn children to have even a chance at a ticket to one of his shows, I was finally able to see Billy on this tour in Philadelphia. It was well worth the twenty-odd-year wait, and "12 Gardens" is a fine representation of the show. Billy plays to both the casual fans and the diehards, including plenty of his hits ("You May Be Right," "We Didn't Start The Fire" and, of course, "Piano Man") and some obscure stuff ("Laura," "Zanzibar," "Miami 2017"). Billy's voice is still remarkable and hasn't lost much of its range, and his piano work is as always tremendous. What comes across most in "12 Gardens," though, is his obvious love of performing. He's having an absolute blast and you can hear it in every note; there is nothing better than listening to a performer who truly loves what he does.
So why only 4 stars? Personal nitpicking on my part--"Pressure" isn't included, which is a shame since he did a spectacular job of it (and it also happens to be my favorite song of his). What I was really hoping for, though, was the inclusion of his cover of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell," on which he played guitar and one of his roadies sang (very well, I might add!). As the friend who accompanied me to the show said, "I never thought I'd be throwing metal at a Billy Joel concert!" But don't mind my personal prejudices--if you're even a casual Billy Joel fan you'll enjoy "12 Gardens." In an age where "performers" lip-sync to pre-recorded tracks and charge hundreds of dollars for people to witness it, it's refreshing to listen to someone with immense musical talent do what he does best