Music Album Review: ‘Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990’ (2022)


(C) 2022 Legacy/ Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment

Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990 (2022)

Produced & Directed by: Jon Small

Producers: Steve Cohen & John Jackson

Starring: Billy Joel, David Brown, Tommy Byrnes, Schuyler Deale, Mark Rivera, Liberty DeVitto, Jeffrey Jacobs, Crystal Taliefero

Release Date: November 4, 2022

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Piano Man Comes Home to The Bronx!

Billy Joel and Yankee Stadium seemed perfect together. Both are quintessential New York, and both are legendary in their own way, so the marriage of the two made perfect sense. – Michael Kay, Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990

On November 4, 2022, Columbia Records’ Legacy label released Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990, a concert film/2-CD mixed media set featuring a remastered, re-edited update of producer-director Jon Small’s 1990 Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium.

Filmed in “the House that Ruth Built” during Joel’s two sold-out appearances in the New York leg of the singer-songwriter’s 1990 Storm Front tour,[1] Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990 captures the fun and excitement of a live performance by one of the Big Apple’s most prominent “native sons.”

Billy Joel’s legendary 1990 concert at Yankee Stadium stands as one of the greatest concert films of all time. Shot in 16mm color film, the original concert has now been meticulously re-mixed and re-edited. The newly edited version includes a never-before-released performance of “Uptown Girl” along with interviews from Billy and behind-the-scenes footage from the event’s production. The set list consists of re-edited versions of songs from the original film including “Piano Man,” “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “New York State of Mind,” “Shout” and more – all live from the iconic stadium in The Bronx. – Promotional blurb for Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990

Who else has been here? Let’s see, you got the Pope. I heard he got a good crowd. And he’s got that amazing car.

Billy Joel, in a pre-concert interview, 1990
(C) 2022 Legacy/ Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment

Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990 consists of:

  • The Film, presented on a 2K Blu-ray with English language  LPCM 2.0, Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and Dolby Atmos audio tracks, subtitles in Dutch. French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish (Castillian), and Spanish (Latin American), and a total running time of 87 minutes
  • The Live Album, which consists of 22 songs distributed between two compact discs (CDs), 12 tracks on Disc 1, 10 on Disc 2
  • A companion booklet with an introduction by Michael Kay, behind-the-scenes commentary by David Fricke, and an interview with Billy Joel about his relationship with New York City, baseball, the New York Yankees, and his love of music and history. The booklet also includes stills from the film and highlights Billy and the members of his onstage band, including bass guitarist Schuyler Deale, percussionist/background vocalist Crystal Taliefero, drummer Liberty DeVitto, and guest violinist Lisa Germano (she performed in The Downeaster ‘Alexa’)

Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990

The original version of Jon Small’s 1990 concert film. (C) 1990, 2000 Sony Music Entertainment

This is producer-director Jon Small’s “second bite at the Big Apple” Storm Front concert; he had produced and directed the original concert film Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium for Sony’s Columbia Records division. This first version was a tremendous success when it premiered as a Disney Channel special 32 years ago and was released on VHS videotape (1991) and DVD (2000) by Columbia Music Video.

Small, who is one of Billy Joel’s friends from their pre-Piano Man days, points out that Joel had long wanted to do a concert at Yankee Stadium, a venue that very few musical acts had performed in due to the New York Yankees’ instincts of protectiveness over “the House that Ruth Built.” According to the program notes in the collectors’ booklet, Joel had expressed his interest to do a concert there sometime around 1982, when the artist and his producer, Phil Ramone, were about to start working on the An Innocent Man album.

By then, Joel had been on every major stage in town, going back to the Bottom Line in 1976 and Max’s Kansas City in 1973. There was Carnegie Hall in 1974 and ’76; the first Madison Square Garden dates in December, 1978, then return engagements through the Eighties and well into this century with Joel holding the current record for most shows at that arena. –  David Fricke, Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990

The Filmed Concert

(C) 2022 Legacy/Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment

Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990 is 87 minutes long, two minutes longer than Small’s first version that was seen on cable in 1990 and later reissued on home media in 1991, 2000, and 2004. The venue is, obviously, the same, and the “set” of songs from Joel’s performances on June 22 and 23, 1990 is almost identical to the one in Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, except that this time around there’s a previously unreleased performance of Uptown Girl.[2]

It’s a young man’s game, but I’m still here, and every once in a while I hit it out of the park.

Billy Joel

Here’s the “tracklist” for the Blu-ray of Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990:

1Storm Front
2Open/Take Me Out to The Ball Game
3Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
4The Downeaster ‘Alexa’
5I Go to Extremes
6Pressure
7Yankee Stadium Story
8New York State of Mind
9We Didn’t Start the Fire
10Shout
11Uptown Girl
12Yankee Stadium Story – Part 2
13That’s Not Her Style
14Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)
15A Matter of Trust
16Piano Man
17Credits

According to David Fricke’s essay in the collector’s booklet, one of the reasons why Small and producer Steve Cohen decided to revisit the already successful Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium was purely aesthetic:

“Redoing the film, I can see places where we didn’t have time to properly get it right,” Cohen admits. “And the Disney Channel special was in a style popular at the time” – that MTV dazzle of quick cuts and fan frenzy. For this edition, Small and Cohen, along with Billy’s archivist John Jackson, went back to the original 16 mm footage and “let the shots play out,” the latter says. Over the eight minutes of “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” from 1977’s The Stranger, “it literally looks like you’re sitting on stage with these guys.”

The Live Album

(C) 2022 Legacy/Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment

In addition to the filmed concert by Jon Small, Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990 comes with a 22-track, 2-CD live album which covers musical material not present in the Disney Channel special from 1990 or its home video releases. Columbia’s Legacy label – the same folks that have released the various Essential albums, including those featuring the works of Glenn Miller, John Denver, and the Piano Man himself – decided to divvy up the tracks on two discs rather than on just one platter.

Here’s what listeners will hear on Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium’s audio-only portion of the program:

Disc: 1

1Storm Front
2Allentown
3Prelude / Angry Young Man
4I Go to Extremes
5New York State of Mind
6The Downeaster ‘Alexa’
7My Life
8Shameless
9Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
10Pressure
11Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)
12Uptown Girl

 

Disc: 2

1We Didn’t Start the Fire
2A Matter of Trust
3Only the Good Die Young
4That’s Not Her Style
5Big Shot
6Goodnight Saigon
7It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me
8An Innocent Man
9You May Be Right
10Piano Man

According to the album booklet, the CDs include seven songs recorded on June 22nd, and they “cover everything else Joel brought to the field in homage, attitude and ambition: his love for the transformative spell of vintage doo-wop and R&B in 1983’s An Innocent Man, complete with a shot of Ben E. King’s Spanish Harlem, the coltish spirit of Only the Good Die Young from The Stranger, and, in a striking choice for a stadium date, Goodnight Saigon from 1982’s The Nylon Curtain, its suite-like sprawl addressing still-open wounds from the war in Vietnam.”

My Take

The opening of the original version of Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium.

It’s a young man’s game, but I’m still here, and every once in a while I hit it out of the park. – Billy Joel, in 1990.

I’ve been a fan of Billy Joel for nearly 40 years, even though his 1970s songs were playing somewhere in the background as part of the soundtrack of my life before I started “digging” his music as a high school senior. I “kinda, sorta” liked some of his songs – especially My Life and Honesty – when my half-sister Vicky “gifted” me her eight-track tape of Billy’s 1978 album 52nd Street on the day she moved out permanently from the townhouse in East Wind Lake Village in early 1979.[3] But since I was more of a classical music listener as a young teenager, I didn’t appreciate how good an artist Joel was – and still is – until I was a senior in high school.

As it happens, Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990  and its 1990 forerunner, Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium were filmed during Joel’s Storm Front tour, which had landed in Miami three months before Joel’s performances in the legendary home of the New York Yankees. I had attended one of the performances of the tour at the Miami Arena (a venue that no longer exists), courtesy of one of my dearest friends from my days as a Dade County Public Schools student who gave me a ticket for the concert as my 27th birthday present. [4]

I had a great time at the Storm Front concert, even though my friend could not get the night off from her job at a public school’s night classes for adults shift and had to give her ticket to a friend so I could go with some company rather than have me trying to figure out how to get from my house to the Miami Arena. I still remember coming home hoarse after Billy invited the audience to sing along during the various encores, including the show-stopping Piano Man.

I did not own the Storm Front album until I moved out here to Lithia, but I did add the original version of Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium on DVD, the one with the baseball motif on the cover art to my video collection when I lived in Miami. I had seen Small’s Disney Channel special during one of those infrequent “free previews” on cable TV; I’d watched it with my mom, who was also a Billy Joel fan (she could hear his music when I played his albums on my bedroom CD player), and we had both enjoyed that show despite its MTV-style presentation.

Needless to say, even though the Yankee Stadium venue was vastly different from the Miami Arena and I am certain that Billy adjusted the song set somewhat, Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium showcased a lot of the same songs I saw and heard at the concert in March of 1990. So, for me, the original film was a good, if obviously imperfect, way to recapture some of the magic from being at a Billy Joel concert in person.

You all have a good summer now. And don’t take shit from anybody.

Billy joel to the audience at the end of the concert

Legacy Records released Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990 on November 4. I found out about it on Sunday night via Blu-ray.com and managed to order it from Amazon just in time for it to be delivered last night, so this is perhaps one of the first reviews about it on WordPress.

As the essay by David Fricke in the booklet that comes with the three-disc set points out, the Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990 re-imagines, re-edits, and remasters the material from Billy Joel; Live at Yankee Stadium to give viewers a better, more “you are there at the concert” experience than the 1990 Disney Channel special directed and produced by Jon Small.

If you’ve only seen Billy Joel in the current century because you were born in the late 1980s or after and want to see him at what album/film producer Steve Cohen describes as the “peak of his powers” as a live performer, you’ll want to get this version of Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990.

(C) 2022 Legacy/Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment

Sure, the earlier DVD is still nice to watch or to put on the TV as “background” while you do chores or cook dinner, but the “new and improved” version is a more faithful depiction of what a Billy Joel live concert was like at the apogee of Joel’s musical career. Remember, he was still recording “new” stuff at the time, although his 12th and final studio album, River of Dreams was only three years down the road.

I think the best thing about doing this is that most of the guys in the band are from the South Shore in Long Island. So you got a lot of New Yorkers. I feel good. I’m looking forward to it.

Billy Joel, in a pre-concert interview, 1990

I have a couple other of Joel’s “live concert” albums, so I know that these performances sound less polished and more “true to life” than the ones you hear on studio albums. You can hear some of the audience’s reactions to his songs, including applause, cheers, and the bits where Billy Joel lets the crowd finish the last chorus of Piano Man.

Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990 is definitely worth getting, especially if you buy it on Amazon; not only do you get the film and the live double album, but you get the digital version for the Amazon Music app as a free bonus!   

You all have a good summer now. And don’t take shit from anybody. – Billy Joel, Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990


[1] A tour that, by the way, I caught at the now-demolished Miami Arena three months before this concert, courtesy of my friend Betsy Matteis, who gave me a ticket for my 27th birthday.

[2] Interestingly, Uptown Girl is the only song In this new version of Small’s concert film that was filmed on the first day of Joel’s two-day gig; the rest of the “set” was filmed on June 23, 1990.

[3] Vicky and I went through cycles in which we would get along well for a period of time, then she’d do something shady to either Mom or me, and we’d be outwardly hostile and not speak to each other for weeks, sometimes even months. Then Mom, ever the optimist peacemaker, would try to smooth things over – even when she had been the aggrieved party – and get everyone to reconcile…until the next vicious cycle started again. But, yes, Vicky often did give me things that I appreciated and even treasured, including the original versions – on tape – of albums that I have in my present music collection.

[4] In 2017, when The Caregiver was still The Girlfriend, she and I attended a Billy Joel concert at the Amalie Arena in the Tampa Bay area, so I have been to two of his live performances.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

4 thoughts on “Music Album Review: ‘Billy Joel: Live at Yankee Stadium, June 22 & 23, 1990’ (2022)

  1. I was actually at one of these concerts – 6 months pregnant (I would see Robert Plant the next month when I was 7 months pregnant! And yet my kid loved hip hop…). Being from Long Island, you had to love Billy Joel, although Springsteen resonated in my life more. He was always great to see live.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That IS awesome, Patti. It’s cool that you attended one of these concerts, in the same Storm Front tour that had been in Miami three months earlier! Wow.

      And just think…even if you are offscreen in the film….if you sang along at the show’s end to “Piano Man,” you’re part of the chorus!

      Liked by 1 person

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