Picks and Pans Review: Billy Joel in Concert—a Television First

UPDATED 07/25/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/25/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (8-9:30 p.m. ET)

An evening with Billy Joel is not your standard rock concert with the star whipping around the stage in a frenzy. Joel plays a grand piano instead of a guitar, and his lyrics require attentive listening. There's not a lot of dancing in the aisles. This solo concert (videotaped last December at Nassau Coliseum on Joel's native Long Island) wisely keeps the camera on center stage. From the opening steam whistle of Allentown to the itchy beat of Pressure, Joel's songs are lyrical evocations of modem times and problems. With his uniform of sneakers and tie, the composer-performer affects the image of just another boy from the burbs of Long Island. But his complex music and masterful playing give him away. He turns his teen anthem Only the Good Die Young into a grand finale. Joel has made other appearances on television, including a gig on Saturday Night Live, but this is his first solo concert for TV. Straightforward and stirring, it is an enjoyable hour and a half with a gifted performer.

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