EP 036 – Concert Classics: Live in Houston, 1979

By the end of the seventies, Billy Joel had found success with a formula that blended elements of pop, rock, and jazz around a singer-songwriter frame. And, he was about to turn all that on its side. The Live In Houston 1979 bootleg is proof of it.

The video features Billy and the Lords of 52nd Street at the Summit in Houston, TX on November 25th. Their sound has been streamlined since the frenetic free-for-all on 1977’s CW Post radio broadcast. But, they’re not quite as settled into the arena stage show they’ll have perfected by 1982’s Live From Long Island. 

Instead, this concert presents a top-tier rock and roll band at the top of their game, with an audience of thousands cheering them on. But, for as revelatory as this concert is, it’s shrouded in a bit of mystery. 

The show took place well after the 52nd Street tour ended. It was professionally shot and edited, but never officially released. As a result, the only video footage available is grainy and suffering from generation loss. Finally, the show features three songs from the forthcoming Glass Houses. That album would mark a stylistic shift, and Billy even mentions that producer Phil Ramone is in the audience. 

But it’s easy enough to put those lingering questions about the how and why to the side and just enjoy the show. And, that’s what we’re doing with this episode. Join us, as we dig deep into Billy Joel: Houston 1979.

Date: November 25, 1979
City/State: Houston, TX
Venue: The Summit

The band:

  • Billy Joel – Vocals, Piano, Keyboards
  • Liberty DeVitto – Drums
  • Doug Stegmeyer – Bass, Vocals
  • Russell Javors – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
  • David Brown – Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Richie Cannata – Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards, Accordion, Vocals

The Setlist:

  1. Only The Good Die Young
  2. Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
  3. Honesty
  4. My Life
  5. Piano Man
  6. All For Leyna
  7. Prelude / Angry Young Man
  8. New York State of Mind
  9. The Stranger
  10. Sometimes A Fantasy
  11. Root Beer Rag
  12. She’s Always A Woman
  13. Stiletto
  14. Zanzibar
  15. You May Be Right
  16. Just The Way You Are
  17. Big Shot
  18. Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
  19. Get It Right The First Time


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