Billy Joel turned Safeco Field into a cozy concert venue Friday, May 20, making no apologies for delivering a string of old hits rather than something new.

Share story

Concert review

Two songs into his cozy set at Safeco Field on Friday (May 20), Billy Joel told the eager crowd that he was about to play a song from 1974, an announcement that was met with shrieks of delight.

“Yeah, it’s all old (stuff),” he said. “We’re not gonna do anything new for you.”

He made the same promise at KeyArena in 1999 — and kept his word both nights.

Joel hasn’t put out a rock record since 1993’s “River of Dreams,” and the fact that he didn’t have new material probably improved the show. Billy Joel fans — like most followers of artists from another generation who can fill the house that Griffey built — come out for the hits and to hear a world-class band and their favorite artist pull out the familiar. Joel happily obliged, running through a hit-heavy set — from “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” to “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” and “Only the Good Die Young” — served up with a heavy helping of tenor saxophone.

The songs were performed masterfully by Joel’s band. And after singing “Uptown Girl” for more than 30 years, Joel’s voice sounded as smooth as ever.

Reaching outside his own songbook, Joel teased a bit of “Your Song,” by his sometimes touring partner Elton John. He also strapped on a guitar and brought up the band’s longtime guitar tech, Chainsaw, to sing lead on AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” As he did in 1999, Joel also took a swing at Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.”

While the music was vintage, the banter was updated for the 21st century. Joel dedicated the song from 1974 that came early in the set to the GOP’s yellow-haired presumptive nominee for president, Donald Trump. The song? “The Entertainer.”

“Today I am your champion,” he sang. “I may have won your hearts … And I won’t be here in another year if I don’t stay on the charts.”

Hopefully Billy Joel is the entertainer who will still be commanding crowds next year.