Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein
Billy Joel had intended to release an autobiography this year but decided against it when he thought it would be falsely marketed as a salacious tell-all. But last night he told plenty to a packed house at Durgin Hall on the University of Massachusetts Lowell campus. Billed as “Q&A . . . and a little music," a high-spirited Joel, 62, performed for a shade over two hours, gamely answering questions about his life and career, poking fun and telling jokes along the way and playing snippets and several full-blown renditions of many of his songs and telling the tales behind them, including hits like “Piano Man" and deeper tracks like “Leningrad." On that last tune a young man from the audience joined Joel onstage, one of two bold souls who requested to play with the rock 'n' roll hall of famer. The singer-songwriter also busted out several impressions including of former touring buddy Elton John and Bob Dylan. Though he steered clear of the salacious, Joel did drop a few nuggets on other artists, including Eddie Van Halen and U2. According to Joel, the former deals with preshow jitters by throwing up, and the latter receive offstage assistance when playing live. “Bono's gonna kill me," he quipped. Before calling it a night, Joel led the crowd in a holiday singalong.