Review: Cavanaugh’s Billy Joel concert rocks Tobin Center

Michael Cavanaugh proved that his performance was the next best thing to a Billy Joel concert itself. Photo: Courtesy

Michael Cavanaugh proved that his performance was the next best thing to a Billy Joel concert itself.

Michael Cavanaugh proved that his performance was the next best thing to a Billy Joel concert itself.

Photo: Courtesy

photo

Michael Cavanaugh proved that his performance was the next best thing to a Billy Joel concert itself.

Michael Cavanaugh proved that his performance was the next best thing to a Billy Joel concert itself.

Photo: Courtesy

Review: Cavanaugh’s Billy Joel concert rocks Tobin Center

The San Antonio Symphony’s Pops season revisited the deep well of New York music Friday night with a tour of Billy Joel’s hit songs and ballads stretching over several decades.

Vocalist and pianist Michael Cavanaugh’s program touching on the various styles of Joel’s music came off during Friday night’s concert much as the Pops program in January when vocalist Tony DeSare invoked New York City through Frank Sinatra hits that represented an earlier generation.

Sixteen of the 20 songs on Friday’s high-energy program explored the facets of Joel’s career. An Elton John hit, “Crocodile Rock,” Peter Townshend’s “Pinball Wizard,” a Jerry Lee Lewis medley (“Great Balls of Fire/Whole Lotta Shakin’/Johnny B Good”) and a Cavanaugh-composed song, “Dig In,” rounded out the program. It all added up nicely to an evening of “piano man” songbook music with an emphasis on New York’s rock ‘n’ roll culture in the 1970s and 1980s.

Cavanaugh has performed versions of his Joel concert with orchestras since 2008, and later added programs featuring Elton John, Paul Simon, Neil Diamond and James Taylor to his repertoire. Cavanaugh earlier had been selected by Joel to be the star in the long-running Broadway musical, “Movin’ Out,” built around Joel’s hits.

Friday night, Cavanaugh quickly proved that he was the next best thing to a Joel concert itself. After the orchestra and Cavanaugh opened with an overture based on the “Movin’ Out” song, Cavanaugh performed a favorite Joel ballad, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” The ballad mixed a variety of melodies and tempos in a structure that tells a love story in a way only music, and Joel, can.

The iconic songs just rolled out after that, one after another, “She’s Got a Way,” “My Life,” “Pressure,” “You May Be Right,” “New York State of Mind,” and “Piano Man” among them….

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