Doin’ Dunmore: A Night with the Piano Man

By Steve Svetovich

Bottle of brew. Friendships renew.

It was the sixth time the Piano Man entertained South Philadelphia and multi generations of fans at Citizens Bank Park.

Billy Joel, who turned 70 earlier last month, rocked Philadelphia this past May 24 to a filled stadium as he performed 26 songs, including five during a stunning encore.

“It was just a tremendous show,” said Dunmore’s Bill Genello who attended the concert. “He was very entertaining and his voice is still great.”

The two and one-half hour concert included a guest appearance from Jason Bonham, son of late Led Zeppelin drummer Jon Bonham. The two Zeppelin songs performed with Bonham on drums totally surprised the energetic crowd who were more than pleased.

Billy Joel, looking dapper at 70 and still with a strong voice, started the show by stating, “It’s good to be back in Philadelphia. If it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be anywhere. It’s your fault.”

He went on to playfully poke fun at New Jersey natives’ trademark accents before starting the show with his classic, “A Matter of Trust.” That was followed by “Pressure” and then “Vienna.” “The Entertainer” and “Don’t Ask Me Why” were then performed to the delight of the crowd.

“She’s Always a Woman” and “Movin’ Out” were next before a moving surprise appearance by a large military contingent dressed in uniform. About 100 soldiers and sailors took the stage with Joel and his band singing “Goodnight Saigon.”

The military personnel added their hearty voices to the war’s laments “and we will all go down together,” fitting for the Memorial Day weekend. The crowd, many with their hands over their heart, stood proud. It was a moving moment. A huge ovation for the military men followed.

That was followed by the 1982 classic, “Allentown.” The crowd was dancing and singing to the song that spoke of the unemployment of new graduates in mining towns, specifically Allentown, during that era.

Joel added a brilliant ode to his “New York State of Mind.” He sang it with a new gravitas as The Statue of Liberty was displayed on side video screens.

Guitarist/singer Mike DelGuidice provided his voice during ‘Nessun Dorma” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”

Jason Bonham took the stage in the middle of the show as DelGuidice seized the reins with a Robert Plant like howl during renditions of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and “Good Times, Bad Times.”

Bonham followed with a drum solo.

All of a sudden there was a Zeppelin concert in the makings.

The crowd went wild with the surprise Zeppelin songs.

“This is the first time we tried this,” said Joel.

The Piano Man went on to perform such classics as “Only the Good Die Young” and “River of Dreams.”

“My Life” re energized the Philadelphia crowd.

Shortly before the encore performance, the rock icon quietly sat at his piano, took a deep breath and performed his trademark song, “Piano Man,” with all of his fans singing along and waving their arms. It may have been the show’s finest moment.

A five-song encore started with “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” which included images of a lit fire and photos on the screen behind the stage of the numerous celebrities and politicians Joel mentions in the song.

The other encore songs included “Uptown Girl” and “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”

The second last encore song was “Big Shot” followed by yet another appearance by Bonham on the drums with Joel singing “You May be Right” interspersed with verses of Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” A dramatic end to a very crowd pleasing performance.

Scranton Public Library Concert to feature Chris Smithers

library concert pic.jpgChris Smithers will present a concert hosted by The Scranton Public Library at the Peoples Security Bank Theater at Lackawanna College on Saturday, Oct. 22,  at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22, and are available online or at the Albright Memorial Library, Nancy Kay Holmes Branch Library, and Library Express in The Marketplace at Steamtown.

All proceeds will benefit the Scranton Public Library. Chris Smither is a profound songwriter, a blistering guitarist, and, as he puts it, a ‘one-man band to the bone!’ Mr. Smither has played alongside famed musicians Bonnie Raitt and the late B.B. King. Concertgoers are invited to POSH at the Scranton Club after the show for free desserts.


Sir Paul McCartney rocks out in Hershey

Doin Dunmore, McCartneyBy Steve Svetovich

If you were lucky to be in Hershey last month when Sir Paul McCartney performed, you saw a concert for the ages.

The former Beatle, with a burst of enthusiasm and charisma that never wavered, performed 38 songs during the three-hour show.

That’s right – 38 songs, mostly Beatles and Wings, with a few of his latest cuts.

“I am a member of Fans on the Run,” said Ashley Williams, Dunmore, who came to the show on the JZ Tours bus trip. “He was awesome. What a way to celebrate my 26th birthday. I will always remember this.”

Ellen Fahey Ciullo, Dunmore, and Ann Oliver, Clarks Summit, also attended with JZ Tours. “We got to see him warm up before the show,” said Oliver. “It was so cool. He was actually interacting with his fans.”

Besides his music, McCartney’s interaction with the fans was one of the highlights of the show. He brought a young girl and a school teacher separately on stage for a personal interaction and autograph.

“He was great with the fans,” said Ciullo. “What a great show he put on.”

McCartney, 74, clearly showed he is not resting on his laurels during the Hershey Park Stadium performance.

He opened two of the first three songs of the 38-song set with the timeless Beatles hits, “Hard Days Night” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” to the delight of the Hershey faithful. The crowd was on its feet standing and clapping along. He sandwiched in “Save Us” between the two Beatles classics.

Then he launched into the moody Wings track, “Letting Go.”

McCartney and his band played everything the crowd wanted to hear while throwing in some inspired choices from the Beatles psychedelic period.

Just a few songs into the set, Sir Paul pulled off his royal blue Nehru jacket. He sported a sharp dress shirt. “That’s the main costume change for the whole evening,” he said with a wink.

Then came “Temporary Secretary” from the McCartney II album.

And then the Wings classic, “Let Me Roll It.”

He followed up with “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “My Valentine” which he dedicated to his wife.

McCartney with fanThen the crowd got revved up to the Wings classic, “Nineteen-Hundred and Eighty-Five.”

He slowed it down about with “Here, There and Everywhere.”

Then came the Wings classic, “Maybe I’m Amazed.” His voice was strong as he hit high on the notes. McCartney was misty eyed as he performed the song he wrote for his late wife Linda. Photographs and videos of Linda McCartney were displayed on the big screen behind him.

The fans were in the mood for another Beatles song. So McCartney and his band belted out, “We Can Work it Out.”

He then played the first song he ever recorded with the pre-Beatles band, the Quarrymen, “In Spite of All the Danger.”

McCartney then performed a cover song, “You Won’t See Me”  followed by two Beatles classics, “Love Me Do” and “I Love Her.” He did a booty shake to the delight of the females in the audience.

Then came a Wings classic for diehard fans as he performed “Blackbird” while sailing toward the sky on a mobile riser.

That was followed up by “Here Today,” a song he wrote as a conversation he wished he had with late Beatle John Lennon. “If  you’ve got something nice to say to someone, get it said,” McCartney advised his fans.

The Lennon tribute was followed up by “Queenie Eye.”

Then came one of his recent tracks, “New.” The track is similar to the Wings sound he perfected years ago.

That was followed up by the ageless Beatles song, “Fool on the Hill.”

Then came his 2015 collaboration with Rihanna and Kanye West, “FourFiveSeconds” followed by Beatles classics “Eleanor Rigby” and “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” which was a treat to hear live.

Dedicating the next song to George Harrison, he played a ukulele the late Beatle gave to him before switching to guitar while performing “Something.” Images of Harrison were shown on the massive screen behind the set.

The Beatles legend got his fans dancing as he performed the Beatles hit, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” He let the happy crowd sing the verses.

He was saving the best for last.

Then came the Wings signature song, “Band on the Run.” The Hershey crowd went wild singing along.

The frenzy kept going as he performed the Beatles classic “Back in the U.S.S.R.” telling a story about the time he performed the song in Moscow, Russia while playfully impersonating a government official.

The crowd in Hershey went into a further frenzy singing along to the Beatles classic, “Let it Be.” Lighters were seen elevated throughout the massive crowd.

Fireworks erupted as he performed the Wings classic. “Live and Let Die. “

And if that wasn’t enough, Sir Paul followed up with the Beatles huge hit, “Hey Jude,” as the crowd sand along again.

Then came the 6- song encore which started with the Beatles classic, “Yesterday” followed by Wings standard, “Hi, Hi, Hi.”

And for those like Dunmore’s Ashley Williams celebrating a birthday, McCartney and his band performed a rousing, “Birthday” song.

That was followed up by “Golden Slumbers” and the classic, “Carry that Weight.”

McCartney and the band fittingly performed “The End” to close a performance for the ages.

Fireworks erupted again as Sir Paul bowed, thanking his fans. It seemed like he did not want to leave the stage.

The Beatles legend made a conscious effort to play to and gaze into the crowd throughout the magical performance.

“I’m just going to take a minute here to drink it all in myself,” he said.

And that he did. And his fans did it even more.