Elio Pace first started listening to Billy Joel 30 years ago. He’s still convinced: no one else comes close.
He will show why when he offers the Billy Joel Songbook at Horsham’s Capitol on September 12 – an attempt to reclaim the word tribute in its truest sense.
All the result of a happy accident.
As Elio will explain in the show, it was sheer luck he discovered Joel all those years ago, thanks to an ex-girlfriend: “She lent me the wrong cassette, and I ended up taking Billy Joel’s Innocent Man album home. And that was it. It was actually the fourth song on the album, ‘This Night’, that did it for me. The album had come out in ’83. It was two years later that I discovered it and fell in love with him and the music. And the next day I went out bought all I could.
“I totally believe he is the greatest singer-songwriter of all time. Over the past 30 years, I have listened to and appreciated so much other music, but as I get older, I think I appreciate Billy Joel more and more.”
“I do four big talks in the show,” says Elio. “I tell people things about Billy Joel they would not usually know. I talk about how Billy Joel got discovered and about how I discovered Billy. The fourth is why he is such a genius.
“I have written this like a proper show. This could go into the West End, but the thing I explain about what makes Billy Joel so incredible is his love of classical music. As a young man, all he ever wanted to be was a classical composer.”
Joel discovered rock ‘n’ roll: “But he took with him all that incredible knowledge from classical music and also being an amazing piano player. He did something that had never been done before, not by Elton John, not by Sting, not by Rick Wakeman. He took the basis of classical music and did rock ’n’ roll. Because he knew how it works, he could go from style to style with freedom and just completely manipulating the sounds and rhythms into what he wanted to do. He could write songs that sound like they are from completely-different people. He has this ability to reinvent himself as a writer like an actor does. He said in an interview ‘Why in the music business are we expected to play one role all your career while an actor is praised for his versatility?’
“On top of that, Billy Joel is just an amazing singer. Like an actor, he can change his voice to suit the role he is playing. His lyrics are phenomenal, more like poetry in a way than anything Bernie Taupin has done.”
And the nice thing is that Billy Joel knows who Elio is: “He has seen videos of me performing his songs. He saw video of me performing with his original touring band. In the middle of last year, I had a lovely message from his record company saying ‘Billy is aware you are doing these 70 dates and that he is grateful that you are keeping his music alive’.”
Tickets are £20.
Call 01403 750220 or visit www.thecapitolhorsham.com.
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