Selected Miscellaneous Shows

Tampa, FL, US
Raymond James Stadiumwith With BILLY JOEL

In Tampa, Billy Joel and Sting make a delightful duo: concert review...

What happens when an “Englishman in New York” teams up with the Piano Man? A whole lot of fun.

Billy Joel made a confession to the sold-out crowd in Tampa on Saturday night.

“I wrote this in 1983 and I didn’t realize that I was going to be singing all of the high notes when I was 74,” the singer said before “An Innocent Man.” “So every time I do this song, I’m a little worried, because if I don’t hit those high notes you ain’t gonna like it.”

The crowd chuckled.

“Just pray for me,” Joel said.

Then he nailed every note.

Joel and Sting teamed up to put Tampa in a “New York State of Mind.” While the pair have shared stages over the years, their stop at Raymond James Stadium marked the first time they’ve co-headlined a concert together.

The show makes sense for Sting, whose 2021 album “Duets” was all about collaboration. It also comes during a year of transition for Joel. The Piano Man just released his first single in 17 years and will soon conclude his record-breaking 150-show residency at Madison Square Garden in July.

Joel, strolling onstage in a trucker hat to introduce his buddy Sting.

“Stick around and sing with me,” Sting said.


The pair launched into “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.” Unfortunately, traffic wrapped around the venue caused a chunk of the audience to miss it.


Sting was all English cool during his set, sizzling across the stage in flared leather pants while strumming a scuffed-up bass.

“I have a little house in the English countryside – it’s more of a castle, really,” he said. “If you go to Stonehenge, walk three miles south, knock on my door and I’ll make you a cup of tea.”

At 72, Sting’s voice is just as smooth as ever. He pulled out the hits from his time in The Police, from “Message in a Bottle” to a blistering sing-along of “Roxanne.”

Sting rocked a cowboy hat and leather pants at Raymond James Stadium Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 in Tampa. "Do you like my hat?," he asked the crowd. "Good, I’ll keep wearing it."

His roughly 70-minute performance allowed for plenty of songs from his solo career (including “Desert Rose,” “Fields of Gold” and “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.”) For “Englishman in New York,” reggae singer Shaggy popped out waving a Jamaican flag.

Then it was Joel’s turn.

“Welcome to Raymond James Stadium,” he greeted the crowd. “Last time I was here, I took my kids to see Taylor Swift. It was a good show.”

Tampa became the first city to hear “Turn the Lights Back On” in person. Joel released the tender piano ballad on Feb. 1 before playing it at the Grammys.

“This is only the second time we’ve ever done this live, so I hope we don’t screw it up,” he quipped. “What’s the tempo?”

To give everyone a good angle of his face, a platform under Joel’s piano frequently rotated mid-tune. When Joel stood to sing, he played air-piano with wiggling fingers.

He brought ample Empire State love for the New Yorkers in the audience (It’s Florida, so you know we had plenty.) A screen flashed clips of the Brooklyn Bridge during “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song).” Crashing waves during “The Downeaster ‘Alexa’” paid homage to the fishermen of Long Island. To conclude a triumphant “New York State of Mind,” Joel whirled around and pointed. The Statue of Liberty filled the screen.

There was time for doo-wop, from “The Longest Time” to “Uptown Girl,” when Joel dragged his mic across the stage and waved to the ladies screaming in the front row. Sting returned, looking like Frank Sinatra in a brimmed hat and gray suit, for a jazzy “Big Man on Mulberry Street” duet.

Joel swapped to a fiery rocker persona, swinging an electric blue guitar for “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and covering the Rolling Stones.

“Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” he said. “I ain’t Mick Jagger.”

Billy Joel doesn't typically sell front-row seats at his concerts, saving the coveted spots so he can invite fans from the nosebleeds to dance near the stage.

Billy Joel doesn't typically sell front-row seats at his concerts, saving the coveted spots so he can invite fans from the nosebleeds to dance near the stage.

During “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” frames of present-day Joel flashed between clips of himself in the 1980 music video. Not to be bested by his younger self, the Joel onstage twirled his mic stand like a baton before flipping it over his shoulder.

There were also moments to slow down: the triumphant “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and “Piano Man.” The latter was as magical as you’d expect from a Joel concert, everyone la, la-la, di-dee-da-ing and swaying under the full moon.

“It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday night!” Joel sang to his roaring audience.

Then he let the fans take over:

“Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody,

And you’ve got us feelin’ alright.”

(c) The Tampa Bay Times by Gabrielle Calise

In Tampa, Billy Joel and Sting finally bring their years-old friendship to the stage...

'Twas a pretty good crowd for a Saturday.

Based on his co-headlining shows with Stevie Nicks, it was inevitable that Billy Joel would share the stage with Sting at some point during their co-headlining concert at Raymond James Stadium last Saturday night, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.

Just after 7 p.m., Joel, 74, shuffled out in a Deus Ex Machina trucker hat, introducing the Police frontman with a non-specific memory about seeing him with the band in the late ‘70s. “I thought he was great then, and I think he’s great now,” Joel admitted.

Moments later, Sting, wielding his battered-on-the-body - ala Willie Nelson’s Trigger - Fender Precision Bass, and rocking a black earpiece microphone, joined Joel onstage to duet on The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”

Born Gordon Sumner, the 72-year-old claimed the spotlight for himself, and continued his 80-minute set with a heavily transposed “Message in a Bottle,” followed by the worrisome, yet optimistic “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You.”

“You could say I'd lost my belief in our politicians,” he sang, just to be met with a matching roar from the very sold-out crowd of 53,000.

Let’s be real: While Sting still has the looks, his wail isn’t quite as mighty as it once was, and most of those 40-year-old high parts were belted out by a trio of younger backing singers. Half of his set was made up of material from the biggest new-wave power trio of all time, and excluding “King Of Pain” (which featured far more percussion than on the original Synchronicity track), every one of those songs either saw Sting substituting a middle harmony for the original leads or was played a half-step or two down to better fit his slightly aged vocal cords.

Ol’ Gordy’s vocalization style and showmanship also felt loose and less planned out at times, compared to what was to come. Bits and pieces of his vocals on the choruses of “Every Breath You Take” were slightly ahead of the instrumentation, but not in an offbeat sense. On “Shape Of My Heart,” singer Gene Noble stepped forward to sing the first line of the late Juice Wrld’s “Lucid Dreams,” which sampled the former’s instrumentals in 2018, and would go on to become Sting’s favorite reworking of the Ten Summoner's Tales song.

And, during an audience participation bit in the middle of his “Roxanne” encore, he completely changed the song’s original reggae-esque tempo to something slower and more straightforwardly reggae than something with Rasta influence.

But perhaps, Sting’s diversified ways may have been a reminder of how little of a perfectionist he can be at times, and how approachable and humble he is.

He introduced “Fields of Gold” as a song about his house near Stonehenge.

“Well, it’s more of a castle, really,” he admitted. “Walk south for three miles, knock on the door, and I’ll make you a cup of tea.”

Before playing “Brand New Day,” Sting echoed his excitement about having Stevie Wonder play harmonica on the original recording and expressed to vocalist-slash-harmonicist Shane Sager that he believed in him to echo Wonder’s bits divinely, which Sager certainly did. But considering the other surprise guest lingering on stadium grounds, some of us wouldn’t have been shocked if the Motown legend himself decided to show up onstage.

Expecting Joel to rejoin his old friend onstage for “Englishman In New York” was a completely valid wish, and I guess that crossed Sting’s mind, too. Instead of bringing the Piano Man back out, reggae-fusion icon Shaggy (with whom Sting released an album in 2018) surprise-burst out to help finish the late-bloomer-of-a-single during the second verse. Granted, he owns a house in Coral Gables, just outside of Miami, so a weekend road trip to Tampa may have been inevitable at some point anyway.

Following a half-hour intermission to reset the stage, Joel and his tight-as-ever backing band (though, as much as we love current drummer Chuck Burgi, it still suffers from a lack of Liberty DeVitto) hit the stage as the end title from “The Natural” blared over the speakers. “My Life,” with a slightly off “Ode To Joy” intro kicked off his two-hour set, followed by “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” which saw Joel - still rocking his Deus Ex Machina trucker - and his jet black grand piano rotating atop an in-stage Lazy Susan for the first time all night.

“The last time I was here, I took my kids to see Taylor Swift,” he quipped, failing to mention how he, his wife Alexis Roderick, and his youngest two daughters Della and Remy also got to meet Miss Americana at her explosive Eras tour last April.

“It was a good show,” he added.

We love a stadium show with massive headliners, yes, but if you go see Joel live more than once, you’re probably going to get a very similar setlist every time. That said, there will also be one or two golden shrapnels that you’re unlikely to ever hear live again. His last three Tampa shows have included rare performances of 1993’s “All About Soul,” The Beatles’ “I Feel Fine,” and one-time tributes to David Bowie and the Eagles’ Glenn Frey. And, when he played Orlando’s Camping World Stadium in 2022 (his first show since the Russian invasion of Ukraine made major waves), he played a snippet of “The Bogatyr Gates (In the Capital in Kiev)” for the only time.

Sure enough, he didn’t fail to live up to that standard at RayJay, either. Despite his mostly standard "I'd-rather-be-anywhere-else" expression for much of his set, Joel was in good voice, in good spirits, and seemed far from ready for retirement.

In between his usual schtick of authentic New York snark, and giving the age-diverse crowd of fellow bald club members, grey locks, and broccoli haircuts the choice between “Vienna” and “Just The Way You Are” came a song pairing never seen in Tampa before. Joel called the finest vocalists in his band up to centerstage for backup on acapella classic “The Longest Time,” which came after the title track of 1983’s An Innocent Man, as it did on the album.

Those up at the front even made a big deal of coming off as a streetlamp doo-wop outfit, because the no. 1 hit was opened with a warmup of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and during the last time the titular line was sung, each word was sung at an extended length. Before Joel took on “time,” he raised his wrist to look at his watch and had a brief whisper exchange with multi-instrumentalist Crystal Taliefero, who would head behind him and dust off his shoulders, in preparation for the best final note ever.

Joel then returned to the ivories for the second-ever public performance of “Turn The Lights Back On,” his first single since 2007 that has a similar sound to “Until The Night” off of 1978’s 52nd Street and his criminally underrated, depressing AF debut album Cold Spring Harbor.

“This is only the second time we’ve ever done this live, so I hope we don’t screw it up,” he uttered, proceeding to play it a half-step down, similarly to the better portion of his setlist.

Joel very well may have been the first nostalgia act in ages that had new material that everyone in the crowd was actually on board with. Some may have taken a pee break during that segment anyway, but hopefully, those who did used their New York legs to return to their seat.

Once Tampa got its first taste of new Billy Joel music in decades (he hasn’t played anything brand new in town since River of Dreams was released in 1993), he invited Sting—now rocking a Sinatra-style suit and hat—back onstage to help him out with “Big Man on Mulberry Street,” not played live in Tampa since Valentine’s Day 1999.

Joel teased the first few seconds of the theme song to “Goldfinger” ahead of “Don’t Ask Me Why,” and for the first time in Tampa Bay history, it became completely improbable to hope for a Tony Bennett duet on “New York State of Mind.” Speaking of those who passed away last year, Taliefero ripped into Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep - Mountain High” midway through “The River of Dreams,” and it was almost like a young Tina was there again.

The crowd actively waved goodbye to Brenda and Eddie during “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” and before the long-awaited “Piano Man” singalong, Joel teased “Oh! Susanna” on his newly applied harmonica holder. He started his five-song encore with “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” featuring images of every topic mentioned, despite the one used for “Disneyland” being Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle.

Not to be a stickler, but if Joel and his family are going to spend more time in Florida following the end of his Madison Square Garden residency this summer, he should probably learn the difference between castles.

Maybe Sting can help him with that. He does know a thing or two about castles.

(c) Creative Loafing Tampa by Josh Bradley