(Nearly) 30 Years Out: Billy Joel, Pittsburgh Civic Arena, 1979


“We don’t have an album coming out until sometime next year, we just came to play” is how Billy Joel addressed the sold out crowd at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in November, 1979. “However, we are going to try out a few new tunes on you tonight…this is called “All For Leyna.” Joel also debuted “Sometimes A Fantasy,” and “You May Be Right” on this night from what would turn out to be one of his biggest selling albums, Glasshouses, released three months later.

I became a Billy Joel fan after I heard The Stranger (I will have a review of the 30th anniversary edition next week) at a 7th grade party in 1978. When tickets went on sale, we stood in line (back when you had to do such things) and got four pretty good seats. I remember the arena workers going on strike a few weeks before the show and as it got closer, there was a chance it would have to be re-scheduled. But all’s well that ends well, an agreement was reached, and the show went on. (STYX had to cancel their show, but then again, who cares?).

The show was the first great concert I ever saw. He ripped through classics like “Big Shot,” “Movin’ Out,” “Scenes from An Italian Restaurant,” and version of “Zanzibar,” where he took out the name “Rose” and changed it to “Stargell knows he’s such a credit to the game.” A tribute to Willie Stargell, who was the king of the city after the Pirates won the World Series.

Besides the great music, there were great prices. I got a ticket, program and t-shirt for under $20. Not $20 a piece, all for under $20. The long-sleeve shirt was $8, the ticket was $10.50, and the program, which was about 50 pages thick, was just $1. Needless to say, those days are long gone.

On the way home, my friend’s father picked us up and we were sitting in the back seat laughing hysterically. At what? We didn’t know. Looking back, it was probably the enormous amount of pot smoke flying through the arena. High times in the Steel City.

YouTube: Movin’ Out

YouTube: Zanzibar (1979)

YouTube: You May Be Right

Billy Joel Official Website

One Response to “(Nearly) 30 Years Out: Billy Joel, Pittsburgh Civic Arena, 1979”

  1. On My Twitter Feed…

    I Quickly looked at my feed and spotted somebody sharing one of the links to the website…

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