Music & Nightlife

5 signs that Billy Joel still matters (a whole lot)


It’s true that Billy Joel hasn’t had a hit song since the first year of Bill Clinton’s first term as president. Yet somehow – all these years later – the 66-year-old singer remains both popular and relevant.

We know he’s popular because his concert at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday night is sold out, and concerts at Time Warner Cable Arena don’t often sell out. And we know he’s relevant for many reasons, including these:

1. News of his concerts is always “major”: When Time Warner Cable Arena announced way back in January that Joel was coming, it did so via a splashy press conference with expensive catering and a video featuring Charlotte Hornets players doing (bad) karaoke versions of “Piano Man.”

By comparison, recent arena announcements for upcoming performances by mega-stars like Amy Schumer, Rihanna and Maroon 5 were delivered using a standard e-mailed press release, with no fanfare.

But Joel didn’t just get special treatment in Charlotte. As recently as three weeks ago, U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati held a press conference (similar to the January one here) to share “major” news – that he would perform at the venue in April. The city’s mayor, John Cranley, led the presentation.

2. Joel is the undisputed King of New York: Since January 2014, Joel has played one show per month at Madison Square Garden.

His residency recently was extended into April, which will mark 28 consecutive months; counting that show, he will have played The Garden 74 times. Both of those numbers are all-time records for a musical act.

Joel has said he will continue playing The Garden every month as long as there is a demand, so we will go ahead and assume he’ll continue playing The Garden every month until he dies.

3. He doesn’t take (expletive) from anybody: The Piano Man has been known to close concerts by saying, “Don’t take s--- from anybody.”

And at a recent show at Madison Square Garden that came on the heels of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Joel opened in a similarly brusque fashion: He performed a stirring rendition of the French national anthem before segueing into “My Life,” and reportedly told the crowd, “Thanks for coming tonight. A lot of people are scared, but we have to keep doing what we do as free people ... so f--- ’em!”

4. One of the things we do as free people? We worship Billy Joel: Next October, Colorado College in Colorado Springs will host a two-day “public musicology conference” devoted to the music and lyrics of Joel. According to the school’s website, the goal is “to share academically oriented insights on this popular figure and his output in an accessible and approachable manner.”

Yes, this is real. Google it.

5. He is (still) a legendary ladies’ man: Joel’s most famous flame, second wife Christie Brinkley, is arguably one of the most beautiful women of all-time. His current wife (No. 4) is Alexis Roderick, a woman half his age.

But the most convincing proof of his everlasting appeal to women? In an unscripted moment at a concert at Chicago’s Wrigley Field over the summer, Amy Schumer (the hottest comedian on earth) and Jennifer Lawrence (the hottest actress on earth) climbed up on top of his piano to dance as he sang “Uptown Girl.”

This month, Lawrence – in her interview with Entertainment Weekly, upon being named the magazine’s Entertainer of the Year – said: “The best thing that happened this year was when my friend Amy and I got so drunk that we ended up on the top of Billy Joel’s piano.”

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes

Billy Joel

When: 8 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St.

Tickets: Sold out, but resale tickets are available through Ticketmaster and other second-hand sellers.