Wednesday, February 4, 2009
All Access: Billy Joel Concert
If it's only rock and roll to you, then you wouldn't want to miss the man himself. Billy Joel is hitting the South Florida stage at the Hard Rock Live. He still has two more shows this weekend, but if you can't make it, Seven's Dave Kartunen has an All Access pass backstage.
WSVN -- He's brought the house down the world-round. The Bard of Long Island, Billy Joel has turned South Florida snowbird in a six-concert run at the Hard Rock Live, a small-venue treat for his die-hard fans.
Steve Cohen: "It almost feels when the lights go out that you're in a big club, and to see Billy Joel and this incredible band in a club is rare; you don't get that."
Bernie Dillon: "We just thought that it would be the most wonderful thing to bring him down to South Florida in season, nice warm weather."
And we thought you just might like an All Access pass. First, meet the guy behind the guy, Steve Cohen, Joel's creative director, has "played me a memory" with the Pianoman for 38 years.
Steve Cohen: "We both had hair when we started."
Cohen says he has an easygoing boss.
Steve Cohen: "He's basically the same guy. When you grow up with someone that long, you don't see the changes that other people observe from afar."
But don't try to pull one over on him.
Steve Cohen: "You hit him with some stuff that's not true or you try and tell him something for your convenience, he's very smart he sees it."
If you don't believe Cohen, take a peek at the one room everyone wants to see. Billy Joel uses a smaller dressing room with just enough room for clothes, a fruit plate and a popcorn machine, so his crew can have more room to stretch out in the big room, and what goes on in there?
That's not to say a rock star doesn't have his creature comforts.
Dave Gold, assistant director of entertainment for Hard Rock Live: "We were looking at many different sites for Mr. Joel's helicopter to land, and the end result was he decided to drive up instead."
But compared to some other artists' demands, the Hard Rock says Billy is a breeze. Meanwhile, the Hard Rock's a flurry of activity all the way up to when the curtain falls. Dave Gold, assistant director of entertainment for Hard Rock Live is in charge of making sure the stage is set for the big show.
Dave Gold: "For Billy's show tonight, this is all Billy, and this is one heck of a rig, let me tell you."
Joel comes with eight trucks full of equipment, including his own sound and lighting.
Dave Gold: "The piano comes up on a hydraulic lift. As it comes up, it will spin one way or the other, left or right."
At least it's supposed to. Just an hour before showtime, the lift isn't working, but thanks to some major manpower, the piano is pulled up, the lights are set, the stage is primed and the doors fly open for 56,000 of some of rock's most loyal fans. Billy's friend, Steve Cohen, knows the secret.
Steve Cohen: "They're really songs for the everyman, for the majority of the people, not the minority of the people."
Just another day's work. Oh, you wanted to hear the show? I'll shut up now.
Dave Kartunen: "If you like this All Access look we gave you, you should know the only tickets left for Billy Joel here in South Florida are VIP seats, so while you'll get a good view, it probably won't be as good as I got. By the way, I can die now."