Blondie and Billy Joel Wow the Crowd

Blondie and Billy Joel Wow the Crowd
Blondie's Debbie Harry on the Plains of Abraham, Quebec City. Festival d'Été de Québec 2014. Photo credit: Philippe Ruel

Blondie’s Debbie Harry on the Plains of Abraham, Quebec City. Festival d’Été de Québec 2014. Photo credit: Philippe Ruel

Another 2014 Festival d’Été de Québec evening on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City and another double header.

And what a double header it was – Friday 11th July, 2014 saw Blondie and Billy Joel put on back to back shows in Quebec.

Blondie, star group in their own right, the warm-up act for Billy Joel.
Nope, didn’t quite believe that when it was announced, either.

Blondie got the proceedings under way around 7.30pm under bright sunshine.
The venue was already full by then, or so I thought.

I can’t quite believe that Debbie Harry is a similar age to my mother, and yet was able to put on a show for that length of time.
That’s not a slight on one of my parents by the way, more an expression of admiration.

Everything you’d expect from a group with that many hits was trotted out, much to delight of the audience.

Heart of Glass, Marie, Call Me, Atomic, The Tide is High, One Way or Another, Denis, and more.
Perhaps a little slower than 40 years ago (they were celebrating that milestone) and the voice not quite what it once was, but that didn’t matter. The crowd was there for a good time. And got one.

The new wave and punk influenced band was on stage for a little under ninety minutes managed to mix in the Beastie Boys ‘You Gotta Fight For Your Right to Party’ and Deee-Lite’s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ into the set list. Kind of odd, but it worked.

With the crowd asking for more, Blondie duly obliged and played a three-song encore.

Thank you, Quebec, Billy Joel is coming’, said Debbie Harry accompanied by load cheers as she left.

It was dark now, the light’s were being tested on the stage for the act next up. The wave of anticipation palpable.

We were now packed on to the Plains of Abraham like sardines in a tin.
90,000 – 100,000 of us waiting for Billy Joel.
I knew there were a lot of people here – the hawkers offering cans of beer and whiskey shots had trouble snaking through the crowd.

We didn’t have to wait for too long, and every movement on the stage got a cheer. Stage hands, roadies, crew, everyone.

Billy Joel on the Plains of Abraham. Festival d'Été de Québec 2014. Photo credit: Philippe Ruel

Billy Joel on the Plains of Abraham. Festival d’Été de Québec 2014. Photo credit: Philippe Ruel

And on they came. 9.30pm on the dot.

Billy Joel, dressed in a sharp black suit, entered stage left with his group of musicians.
Nine of them: drummer, saxophonists, percussionist, keyboard player, guitarists, backing singers. They all added to the great mood.

Joel played some of his deeper stuff such as ‘Zanzibar’. This delighted the faithful but perhaps not the casual fan.
But hey, It’s Billy Joel, and his music does not go out of fashion. And, as he said ‘I’ve been doing this job fifty fricken years and I’ve never been here.’ ‘Bonsoir, Québec’. Bonsoir, indeed Jilly. We’re glad you finally made it to our iconic city.

There were a few highlights. Joel told us that he always brought someone up on stage to give them a go, to see what they could do.

We were asked to get in a religious mood, a spiritual mood, as the guy coming on wanted to sing a religious song for us.
‘Oh, and by the way‘, said Billy ‘If he’s no good, you can just boo his ass right off the stage.’

So long-time guitar roadie ‘Chainsaw‘ appeared, Joel switched from piano to electric guitar, and we rocked out to AC/DC‘s ‘Highway to Hell.’

‘River of Dreams’ of one Joel’s many great songs played on the night, was interrupted mid-tune as the group effortlessly switched to the Beatles’ ‘Hard Days Night’ and then back again.

‘Piano Man’, towards the end of the set, got the hairs on the neck standing on end. What an experience. We all sang along, and it was beautiful.

We all received a thanks from the man himself. Perhaps there’s an opening for a backing singer – 100,000 of us were there auditioning.

Joel left the stage after ninety minutes. They baying crowd wanted more. ‘Billy, Billy, BIlly’ filled the plains.

And they returned for an encore. And what an encore it was. Six songs including: ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire‘, ‘Uptown Girl’, ‘It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me’, and ‘You May Be Right’.

Billy Joel’s music is timeless. It simply does not go out of fashion. This proved by tonight’s set list taking just shy of two whole hours to play.

Fifty years in the business and this was his first visit. From the whole of Quebec City – Please don’t leave it so long next time.

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Categories: Arts & Culture

About Author

Andrew Greenfield

Andrew Greenfield moved to Quebec in 2009. He is part of the team responsible for the publishing company behind LifeinQuebec.com and Life in Québec Magazine. He has been involved with online and print media since 2001. He is passionate about cricket, is a qualified coach, and his real ambition is to start a cricket team in Quebec City – something he freely admits is probably beyond him. Follow him on Twitter @GreenfieldAndy

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