Piano Man Hits Town!

Billy Joel Songbook,

Theatre Severn

Thursday 5th October 2017

The most intriguing aspect of going to see a show comprising of nothing but one man’s work is the realisation of how much material they have written and what an impact that one artist has had on the music industry. It is also remarkable to note how many of the tracks one knows and what an impression the work has had one one’s own life.

Well tonight on a stage bristling with as many instruments as a war ship has guns, Elio Pace surrounded by a band of six incredibly talented musicians blasted his way through the Billy Joel songbook and took the full house on a journey of their own memories. Priceless.

Before attention is turned to Mr. Pace it is worth pointing out the calibre of the men on stage with him. With a back line of Sax, Drums, Piano, Keys, Rhythm, Lead and Bass Guitars, the audience learned how the Keyboard player had played with Suzie Quattro and how the Bassist is off to join Queen with only five shows to go before he is launched stratospheric.

Given the quality of the band one would expect the front man to be utterly astonishing. One would be neither mistaken nor disappointed.

Finding energy from heaven only knows, Elio delivered hit after hit after note perfect hit; finding pathos, sensitivity and winning the hearts of the crowd. Some of the crowd had surrendered to this man’s mastery at a previous visit to Theatre Severn and some of the crowd were first timers but they were all joined by a common bond, their respect and awe at Mr. Pace’s ability.

Interestingly enough was Elio’s inexhaustible knowledge on the subject. There didn’t seem to be any fact or anecdote that this man didn’t know about Billy Joel. It is obvious that that level of knowledge indicated more than a fleeting fancy. In fact the original band put together to help Billy Joel record his first album disbanded back in the 70’s but reformed in 2013. Sadly Mr. Joel didn’t want to rekindle the relationship with the band. How lucky was that for Elio Pace? You guessed it, he got the gig! That is quite a claim to fame.

 Possibly the passionate knowledge displayed was slightly subjective and perhaps that had an effect on the length of the introductions, which on a couple of occasions were slightly too long. Sometimes less can be more and the brilliance of Joel’s poetry and music speaks volumes alone. Of course one wants a flesh and blood performance which is what definitely happens but the level is naturally higher when the stage is rocking and the hits are flying.

The show is tight and so beautifully timed. It lifts where it should, it soars where it should and every note arrives in the ears of the recipient as it should: Just as Joel wrote it.

One can never put a value of the sense of enjoyment the band can engender in the audience. It becomes obvious these guys are friends, some go back twenty seven years after all, but not only are they friends happy in their work there is an overlying air of respect they all have for each other too. They seem to really enjoy spending time at the office together. The audience benefit massively as there is probably nothing quite so infective as a smile. So pleasing to see and so inclusive in its open invitation. “Smile with us and have fun….we are!”

This is a great show. It is sung and played impeccably, it is tight, well-rehearsed and certainly worthy of the maximum audience it brings in.

There is only one question that wasn’t answered, overheard in the foyer was a conversation on how one should pronounce the surname. One insisted it was Joel whilst the other was adamant it was Joel: Sort the bones out of that one.

This is a Four Star Review

Owen J.Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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