A lot is going on for Billy Joel right now. This past week he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon – performing two duets, including a doo-wop rendition of Solomon Linda’s “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. He was there, in part, to promote an upcoming Sirius Satellite Radio “Billy Joel Channel”, where he will be playing music that “[he] likes to listen to.” However, Joel never strays too far from New York, his home, where he performs once a month in Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden (MSG). The latest MSG show occurred just last night, where AC/DC front man Brian Johnson joined Billy Joel in a surprise moment of the night. (video below)
Just a few days ago, on The Tonight Show, Joel discussed his monthly gig at MSG, saying: “We mix it up. I don’t ever wanna do the same show twice”. He certainly proved his point at the March 21 show in the world famous “Garden”. About halfway through the show, Joel took a second or two address the audience, referencing: “… maybe the best band [he] ever saw in [his] life”. It was then, at that moment, when Billy Joel introduced legendary singer of rock band AC/DC, Brian Johnson.
The AC/DC front man gleefully joined Billy Joel at MSG, as the band and the audience rocked out to “Acca Dacca” mega hit from the 1980’s, “You Shook Me All Night Long”. The performance was more of a re-creation than a cover, with the tune sounding almost exactly like the track from the original album Back in Black. Specifically, the guitar solo performed by Tommy Byrnes, was almost a true doppelganger of Angus Young’s original. Moreover, Johnson’s gruff, high-pitched voice still manages to hit those high notes. Just when it seems he is not gonna “make it” – he gets there, even if it’s by the skin of his teeth.
Johnson was not the first singer to front the Australian powerhouse, AC/DC. The original lead vocalist in 1973 was Dale Evans. However, the band ultimately felt that Evans was not a right fit, due to personal issues and style differences. In 1974 Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott replaced Evans and helped the band achieve worldwide popularity, with albums such as Highway to Hell and T.N.T. Tragically, Scott died of alcohol poisoning in 1980. Shortly after, Brian Johnson was brought in and helped the band complete their highest grossing album Back in Black. He has since become synonymous with the band, particularly for his unique brash singing style.
As the legendary AC/DC front man, Johnson, took to the stage at MSG last night, one may have been reminded of many past collaborations manufactured by Billy Joel. He has performed with Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney. At one point he even made an album with Ray Charles, Cyndi Lauper, and Steve Winwood. Now, fans can add the March 21 2014 performance to that list. According to Joel, MSG is “… built on springs”. If that’s true, they (the springs) certainly had their work cut out for them last night.
Opinion by Josh Taub
Long Island Newsday