My Review of Billy Joel at Wrigley or Why 30,000 Singing Piano Man Together Can’t Be Wrong

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Chicago’s traffic is akin to a schizophrenic’s reality, cars veer into lanes like spastic neurons misfiring and pass each other at a hair’s length avoiding collisions at 60mph in 45mph speed zones, interlocking the whites of the eyes to strangers before braking to enter a toll booth to interact briefly with a clerk that wears a sullen face like it was a permanent mask molded to display depression. Granted I had the pleasure of being a passenger on my most recent trip. It’s hard not to appreciate Wisconsin’s roadside traveling down I-90. Forests and prairies interlock farmland complete with barns and silos so rustic in Americana I contemplated if Norman Rockwell used I-90 for inspiration. I was tip toeing along the edge of a caffeine high; reaching the inevitable crash that quivers eyelids and anchors heavy limbs as we entered the city. My mother played the role of driver with aplomb while my sister navigated her movements, reading directions off her treasured I-Phone. We arrived at our hotel a couple hours before ShowTime. I showered off yesterday’s failure and watched bits of Chicago’s dreary newscast; we then stopped at a gas station where I inhaled another (diet) Monster before leaving for Wrigley Field. After a confusing excursion through a maze of alleyways we found a parking spot near the stadium. We parked and set off on foot. There’s a certain etiquette one must adapt to when walking through a metropolis. For instance one is instructed not to stand on a curb’s edge in NYC or they risk getting clipped by a taxi. Chicago abandons this rule for one a little simpler: walk as fast as possible to get there as soon as possible and screw the taxis. So our small tribe was herded by an invisible sheep dog as we strutted en masse to Wrigley Field. Posted above the entrance to the stadium was a sign promoting the event. Concert goers were aligned in front of it, snapping Selfies and group photos to commemorate their venture. We shuffled past them and I released an unnecessary sigh of relief as I passed through the metal detector unscathed. We found our seats. I captured a Selfie (hypocrite) and sat patiently waiting for Mr. Joel to take the field, while in this sedated state Billy Joel band member Mike DelGuidice “liked” my Instagram photo prompting an OH MY GOD over hyped reaction from my celebrity adoring consciousness. This was the highlight until Billy Joel took the stage. Before he entered the stadium went black. We were positioned in the nosebleeds and could view Chicago’s skyscraper skyline glinting in the background. On the ground floor cellphones lit randomly like oversized fireflies. Billy walked out amidst all the fractured lighting, sat down at his piano and unleashed hell on his instrument. The following two hours were a collection of his pop hits and a few of (what he dubbed) his favorites. Between songs he commented on his pieces while also attempting humor through a series of kind of funny observations, noting that he looked like Darth Vader when he fastened his harmonica rack around his neck. I chuckled out of politeness. However it was at this point that he sang Piano Man. The out of tune choir of 30,000 people chanting “sing us a song you’re the piano man” was exquisite and unforgettable. My mother was teary eyed and I’ll admit I was too. For the song united a group of strangers. Suddenly Chicago’s gun violence, Trump’s campaign and Hillary’s lies were forgotten for a glorious 6 minutes. That’s what music does it adjusts our ails into beautiful melodies so simple that even perfect strangers can come together to share the same lived experience.

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