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 Elton welcomes Eminem

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PostSubject: Elton welcomes Eminem   Sat May 23, 2009 1:00 am

Sing us a song, you're the piano men.

The popular pairing of Billy Joel and Elton John, joining forces for the third time since their initial 1994 outing, played to a sold-out crowd of more than 20,000 Thursday at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Among those in attendance was Eminem, who has revealed in recent weeks that John played an important part in his recovery from drug addiction.

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Em, dressed in a gray hoodie and black baseball cap and with a small entourage in tow, made a beeline through the crowd to the backstage area about 45 minutes into the show, after John wrapped up "Burn Down the Mission." Later, John made a dedication to the rapper, calling him "one of the most brilliant artists of our time. Marshall, I'm very proud of you, this one's for you," he said, launching into "Rocket Man."

Joel and John opened the three-and-a-half hour show together, trading verses on each other's hits "Your Song," "Just the Way You Are," "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," and "My Life."

It was fun, but the formula would have benefitted from a more daring creative risk. Why not take a mash-up approach, singing one song over the instrumental to another? If Joel were to sing, say, "Movin' Out" over the instrumental to "Benny and the Jets," that would stoke the duo's creative fires in new ways, while creating a crazed euphoria for the superfans in attendance.

After Joel and John's 20-minute opener, John took the stage for a 75-minute set which included renditions of "Tiny Dancer," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Daniel" and other nuggets from his sizable catalog. He earned multiple standing ovations from the crowd, which skewed toward the 40- and 50-year-old set.

But John's set proved just a warm-up for Joel, who in terms of showmanship ran circles around his counterpart.

While John kept his stage banter to a minimum, Joel was a veritable chatterbox, joking how the back of the arena was practically in Kalamazoo and lightly chiding audience members for text messaging during the show. Joel, who stopped making pop music in the early 1990s, roasted his record company for its repeated repackaging of his hits (the "Very Greatest Hits," the "We Truly Mean It This Time Greatest Hits" and the "Essentially Ultimate Greatest Hits," he jokingly called them), telling the crowd, "I have nothing to do with that, I'm just a... piano player."

Joel also made numerous references to the fact his ex-wife, Christie Brinkley, hails from Monroe ("Monroe, Michigan!" he exclaimed after "Uptown Girl"), and poked fun at his balding head. "I'm not actually Billy Joel, I'm Billy's dad," he joked at the opening of his 65-minute set.

Joel rolled through a number of his hits, including "Allentown," a working-class anthem about the failed promise of the American Dream that has parallels to the current situation in Detroit.

He hit his stride late in his set, ditching his piano stool and taking on a more traditional frontman role. He strapped on a guitar for the rapid fire history lesson "We Didn't Start the Fire" and engaged his microphone stand like a dance partner -- twirling, tossing and spinning the three-legged stand -- during "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me."

Joel and John closed the show together with another mini-set, which included a rote run-through of "Candle in the Wind" and the surefire sing-along closer, "Piano Man."




http://detnews.com/article/20090522/ENT...lace-crowd
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