Veteran piano men team up to take D.C.

True musicians are marked by their resilience. The ability to endure the ever-changing trends of time is what distinguishes career artists from ones who simply fade away.

On Friday night at the MCI Center, Billy Joel and Elton John collaborated in a performance of grand proportions, demonstrating the true meaning of talent. If Friday was any indication, their act is not one that will wither any time soon.

Jamming out for more than three hours, the veteran rockers managed to enchant a sold-out crowd that had toddlers and grandmas and everything in between. The marathon concert was as much as a greatest hits extravaganza as it was a test in Joel and John’s endurance, as each man played his most demanding piano epic. Neither failed to impress as they were both in finest form, never missing a key.

Collaborating on John’s bluesy “Your Song,” the men managed to capture the audience from the start. After four songs – two of Joel’s and two of John’s – Joel departed and let John took the spotlight for an hour. He played hits from his entire musical career such as early classics “Crocodile Rock,” “Rocketman” and even his newest single, “I Want Love.”

John was more subdued than Joel, not really commenting much during his set. He was quite businesslike despite the electric blue suit he wore for most of the show.

Joel had all the charm of a favorite uncle. During his solo hour, he pondered why D.C. doesn’t have its own song and made fun of his own increasing baldness. He opened with the majestic “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and covered most of the favorites from his library of music.

John reappeared after Joel’s solo set, and the two hit the most exciting part of the night.

With an encore of “Candle in the Wind” and “Piano Man,” the show succeeded in rousing even those in the last row of the fourth tier.

The back-up band powered the show appropriately, not taking away from the men on the grand pianos. Joel’s drummer Liberty Devito, a man who has played with Joel since the ’70s, worked up a sweat worthy of a distance runner.

With minds forever ripe with talent and creativity, John and Joel showed they can crank out new stuff that is comparable to their music at their prime. The feeling throughout the crowd as the show came to a close was one of awe and satisfaction, as the audience realized that it had just witnessed the talent of two legends of our time.

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