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Laura Musselman
Elton John and Billy Joel played KeyArena on Wednesday, Feb. 3. They play the Key again on Saturday, Feb. 6. More photos after

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Last Night: Who Woulda Thought? Billy Joel Upstages Elton John at KeyArena

billjoel2.jpg
Laura Musselman
Elton John and Billy Joel played KeyArena on Wednesday, Feb. 3. They play the Key again on Saturday, Feb. 6. More photos after the jump.
Together they emerged onstage, a pair of pudgy piano players (say it three times fast!) performing the sweet ballad "Your Song." It set the mood for the rest of the evening--a nostalgic three hours during which Billy Joel and Elton John played their own songs, each other's songs, and several duets. And damn, were they good. They'll be doing it all again this Saturday. Anybody interested in a second go? (Raises hand.) Here are some key notes from last night's concert:

The crowd: A jam-packed house of graying baby boomers, families with children, drunk 20-somethings. Like my dad used to tell me while he was washing the car and humming along to "Crocodile Rock," great music really does withstand time and gets passed on to younger generations.

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The BJ & EJ team: Talk about a pop super-duo. They fed off each other's piano playing and singing, as evidenced by the cheesy grins they kept exchanging. There was no clashing of the egos except when they took turns climbing atop the pianos in a mock rivalry during "The Bitch Is Back."

BJ versus EJ: BJ came off as the better entertainer. He jumped out of his chair to shake his round ass, made Washington-specific references when joking with the crowd, and hit those high notes like he was a eunuch. EJ was more subdued. He was savvy on the keys, but seldom interacted with the fans and seemed at certain moments to be out of steam.

Best EJ moment: "This one's for the ladies," he said quietly into the mike. Then he launched into a beautiful rendition of "Tiny Dancer." He kept the momentum going with so many crowd favorites ("Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Rocket Man," "Crocodile Rock") that it served as a reminder as to just how many hits he's had in his career.

Best BJ moment: He covered Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." Um, need I say more? I could've left the concert right then and there and been absolutely content. He further won over the audience with upbeat tunes like "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll to Me" and "We Didn't Start the Fire," because he looked like he was digging playing the songs just as much as his fans dug hearing them.

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Memorable quotes: "I'm probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but it sounds like shit." -- Billy Joel expressing his distaste for performing at the Tacoma Dome .

"I thought you were Lady GaGa for a minute." -- Elton John joking after a swift glance at his performance partner, in reference to his Grammy performance just days ago.

WTF moment: Two hours into the show, BJ and EJ emerged as a duo once more to perform "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues." The first several verses were plagued with annoying thumps and clinks. It wasn't until BJ barked, "Turn off that amp!" that someone--who understandably looked scared shitless--darted onstage to make the appropriate changes to the system. Get it together, people! You really needed one of the headliners to tell you what needed to be done?

The finale: Once the amp was turned off, they stormed through a slew of their biggest hits, including "Uptown Girl, "The Bitch is Back," and "Candle in the Wind." But of course, it was "Piano Man" that closed the evening. Back and forth they went, trading somber verse after somber verse, until the entire crowd was on its feet applauding. EJ beamed and bowed several times, as did BJ. They congratulated each other on a job well done. Then EJ walked off stage. BJ continued waving until he realized he was the only one still standing there. Then he, too, disappeared from the spotlight.

 
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