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Friday, April 19, 2019


(Pic courtesy of Val Bottomley)

The Piano Man needs to settle in to the venue before it becomes a great show, and hopefully it will. (Review by Barry Meehan)

Showtime Australia, renowned for their tribute band shows, opened their latest offering at Sibaya’s iZulu Theatre last night. The show features Australian-born piano man Steven Michael who bears a striking resemblance to the musical maestro.

The Piano Man features a six-piece band – all South African – designed to recreate the authentic, streets of New York Billy Joel sound, with keyboards and accordion, drums, percussion, lead guitar, bass guitar and a standout saxophonist.

The show kicks off with the last big Billy Joel hit River of Dreams, which – to my mind, anyway, would have made a better closing number, but that’s just my humble opinion. Most of Joel’s better-known songs follow - Just The Way You Are, My Life, We Didn’t Start the Fire, Piano Man, It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me, New York State of Mind and For the Longest Time, with You May Be Right bringing the first half to a close.

The second half features some rather lesser-known Billy Joel numbers with Say Goodbye to Hollywood and Allentown. It is only at this stage of the show that Steven Michael tells us that he has only been in Durban for four days and is suffering from “Durban throat”, which explained some of the voice cracks in the first half. Jokingly, he invites everyone back later in the run, when the show will sound much better.

Hopefully, he will be right, because the overall sound needs a lot of tweaking to turn this into a show worth attending. The bass guitar simply overpowers everything, the drumkit sounds flat, with an annoying slap reverb, most of what the percussionist does cannot be heard, and the lead guitarist might as well not be there, only being heard in his great solo in Big Shot. Every song is belted out at full volume, and there could be a lot more finesse demonstrated by the sound desk.

Other numbers in the second half are Only the Good Die Young, Tell Her About It, Big Shot and Moving Out, leading into the final number Uptown Girl. Die-hard Billy Joel fans were calling for Honesty, but unfortunately this didn’t materialise.

Billy Joel has led an extraordinary life as part of the music scene, but we are not given any snippets of information about his history, which would have added to the show, breaking up the somewhat longish playlist.

The Piano Man needs to settle in to the venue before it becomes a great show, and hopefully it will.

Piano Man: The Billy Joel Show! runs at Sibaya’s iZulu Theatre until April 28, 2019. Tickets R250 pp from Computicket, Shoprite/Checkers or Sibaya Box Office.

For more information visit – Barry Meehan