Scenes From A Big Egg Act I (Laura-01/02)
Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan – November 28th, 2006
Disc 1 (72:47): Opening SE, Prelude / Angry Young Man, My Life, Miami 2017, Honesty, The Entertainer, Zanzibar, New York State Of Mind, Allentown, Don’t Ask Me Why, The Stranger, Just The Way You Are, Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song), An Innocent Man
Disc 2 (73:14): Keeping The Faith, She’s Always A Woman, I Go To Extremes, The River Of Dreams, Highway To Hell (Ricky “Chain Saw” LaPointe on vocal), We Didn’t Start The Fire, Big Shot, It’s Still Rock ‘N’ Roll To Me, You May Be Right, Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, Sakura Sakura / Piano Man. Bonus tracks, sound check from the day of the show: Zanzibar, The Stranger #1, The Stranger #2, Prelude, Sukiyaki, Sukara Sukara, Billy Jean
To coincide with the November 2005 release of My Lives, Billy Joel scheduled his first solo tour in nearly seven years through 2006, 2007 and with dates scheduled through 2008. The new box set covers the entirely of Joel’s almost forty year long career over four discs and one dvd, and given the nature of the release the set list for this tour spans his solo career with emphasis upon the hits and a few obscurities thrown in as well.
Beginning on January 7th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the tour wove its way around the world and ending up in Japan in late November and early December with a six date tour playing in domed stadiums across Japan including November 28th & 30th in Tokyo, December 3rd in Sapporo, December 6th in Osaka, December 9th in Fukuoka and December 12th in Nagoya. These are his first shows in Japan in almost a decade.
Since Joel has not produced a rock oriented album in almost fifteen years, the selection of songs range from the mid seventies to The River Of Dreams. A little bit of the classical music he has been playing makes its way into the set, but only as short introductions to his best known songs.
The new Laura label produced three titles covering half of the tour. Scenes From A Big Egg Act I documents the first Tokyo show label using two sources for the show, an unbalanced soundboard recording supplemented by an excellent audience recording used to lend ambience to the soundboard. The editing “matrix” is non-intrusive and very well done making this sound like a professionally recorded and mixed release.
The only negative is that the backing vocals are at time much louder than the lead and becomes annoying on songs like “My Life” and “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” But for the most part the mix works wonderfully. Another release of this show can be found on Quite Stranger (Stargazer SGL-013/014), which has an audience recording.
The opening SE is a recording of the orchestral theme from the movie The Natural played over the PA as the band take the stage. The first song is a very aggressive version of “Angry Young Man.” Beethoven’s Ode an die Freude from the fourth movement of Symphony Number Nine is played in the introduction to “My Life.” “Long time, no see. Last time we were here was 1998 with Elton John. Same place. Same acoustics.” A majority of the songs are introduced by year and album, probably to promote the box set.
“Miami 2017” appears on the 1976 LP Turnstiles but became a minor hit in 1981 on the live album Songs From The Attic. The song is played at a slightly slower tempo and the Mafia takes over Tokyo instead of Mexico in this concert. “We’re gonna do something from an album that came out in 1975. A long time ago. The album is called Streetside Serenade.” In reply to one or two cheers Joel continues, “yea, that’s how many people bought the album. Didn’t sell a lot of albums. This is a song about the music industry.” And someone far from the stage lets out a very loud shriek which everybody hears.
“Are you in the music industry? How’ya doin’?” Following “The Entertainer” they play “Zanzibar,” which is introduced as a “fun song to play” and Carl Fisher plays an impressive flugelhorn solo. One of the happy inclusions in the set is the title track from his breakthrough The Stranger. “We haven’t done this song for twenty years? No no, we did it the last time we were here which is the last time we did it. So I hope we don’t mess it up okay? This is a song we only do in Japan.”
The count-in for “Moving Out (Anthony’s Song)” is done in Japanese, as it will be for all the shows in Japan. The second disc begins with “Keeping The Faith,” a song not played at every show. This is one of his best autobiographical songs on his retro An Innocent Man and contains great lines such as, “Cause I never felt the desire / ‘Til their music set me on fire / And then I was saved, yeah / That’s why I’m keeping the faith” and “Cause the good ole days weren’t Always good / And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”
After “The River Of Dreams” Joel introduces Crystal Talifero and Chainsaw to sing “Highway To Hell,” a religious song. The final four, “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” “Big Shot,” “It’ Still Rock And Roll To Me,” and “You May Be Right” represent the strongest part of the set. “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” is played as as the first encore and the auidence is appreciative despite probably missing the Nassau County references.
The second encore “Piano Man” is preceded by a brief mention of “Sakura Sakura” on the piano. Like all three Laura releases, this contains about a half hour soundboard recording from the sound check from the afternoon of the show. the run through the rarity “Zanzibar” and several versions of “The Stranger.” The latter needed work since it hadn’t been played in almost a decade.
Finally Joel practices the two Japanese songs “Sakura Sakura” and “Sukiyaki.” The latter would appear the following night. This is a product of the people behind Wendy and Misterclaudel and they always bring strong production to their releases and this is no exception.
Scenes From A Big Egg Act I is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with an obi strip on the outside. The label use beautiful picture discs and it is nice to see a label put so much effort into Billy Joel releases.