Greetings! Taylor here…
One of the most anticipated performances to ever grace our UConn Storrs campus was ‘An Evening With Billy Joel’. So far in my attendance to our Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, this has been my favorite and most memorable concert experience. When word got out about the show and the ticket release, I informed my parents of the opportunity to see the legend himself, and they were both just as excited as me!
On the night of, my parents arrived at UConn to meet me outside of the theater. While awaiting the doors to open the anticipation had built up quite a bit. The throngs of students, parents, and friends were boisterously questioning one another on what would take place inside in just a few minutes. When the doors finally opened, the crowd filed in, in lengthy throngs, slowly finding their seats and settling down. While this process took place, it wasn’t hard to hear the soft humming of the words to Piano Man, Only the Good Die Young, and The Entertainer.
Before long, the curtains opened and there he was, the man himself. The audience erupted to praise the world-renowned artist as he at comfortably at his piano and greeted us all warmly. He went on to describe the structure of the performance by explaining it as a question and answer session with questions supplied by the members of the audience. He encouraged us to be as prying as possible, as he wanted us to “get the good stuff”.
And so it began, audience members went to great lengths to have their raised hand stick out above the rest. Billy chose seemingly carefully and began answering the questions of devoted fans, mothers of aspiring musicians, as well as questions from musicians as young as ten years old.
As a tour guide for the University of Connecticut, I have established an appreciation for those who can grab an audience with their words and keep them holding on. The presence that Joel demands on stage was enthralling and I was truly envious of his effortless ability to actively engage a crowd and keep them wanting more.
But he didn’t just answer questions. He fed the audience almost all of his best hits, which were either played by himself or with the assistance of eager and lucky audience members. Aspiring artists got the chance to sing with Billy Joel, even some of my very own friends were on stage with the legend. Other (possibly less talented) audience members simply asked for a hug from the man who had brought them countless hours of listening pleasure.
What I mostly took out of Joel’s performance was an impromptu message and quote he said while speaking of his favorite artist, Gordon Lightfoot. Lightfoot has bells palsy and because of this, his voice is incredibly unique and Billy expressed some envy of his originality. Joel went on to say, “sometimes your limitations become your greatest gifts.” When he said that, the audience when quiet. I found this silence to be the most powerful moment of the entire performance. The message within Joel’s story was something to be appreciated and remembered for a lifetime.