News, events and schools' information for families across Bath and West Wiltshire

A dad’s night out celebrating a great singer songwriter

“Did a few of you think you were seeing the really Billy Joel tonight?” Elio Pace asked of the audience at The Forum Bath last night. “Not for £30 a ticket, you’re not!”

No it wasn’t the real multi-Grammy winning Piano Man himself, but it was a great evening celebrating his songwriting and many hits to a decidedly – and perhaps predictably – middle-aged audience braving a wet, windy Wednesday evening for a few musical memories and the chance for a singalong too.

Elio Pace and his band has been touring The Billy Joel Songbook for ten years and the result is a tight, professional, high quality show that manages to remain fresh and plenty of fun, combining stories about Mr Joel with 30 – plus one special bonus track – of the great man’s best known songs.

Elio is keen to tell us that this isn’t a tribute act, but there’s no doubting a slight similarity between him and Billy – at least, at a distance without your long-range glasses on – while his stagemanship is very reminiscent of the real thing. The biggest wow factor here, however, is the Elio’s performance and his amazing backing band, which includes the current bass player from Queen and Amy Winehouse’s saxophonist!

For me and my two middle-aged dad friends on a well-deserved night out, this was a perfect event – helped by the Forum’s comfy chairs, the short queue for the bar and the closeness of the toilets. How things have changed since our teenage days in the most pit…

As for the show, it was just superb – fantastic performances across the stage, top-rank musicians and, at the centre, Elio Pace replicating the vocals of keyboard skills of the original Piano Man. Kicking off with Angry Young Man and the amazing Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song), the set took in all of the classics, from the graceful a ccapella of Innocent Man to the soulful genius of New York State of Mind, the mega hits like Uptown Girl and the inevitable crowd pleaser Piano Man.

Along the way, he explains his huge respect for the Billy Joel, detailing his rise from classically trained pianist to struggling singer-songwriter and ultimately mega star. Elio introduces the tracks with real appreciation for the back stories and musical skills involved with each one, helping the audience to appreciate the creative processes involved.

And along the way, the hits just kept coming, perfectly paced and lovingly played. By then end, the invitation to get up in the aisles and dance and sing along is eagerly accepted by swathes of the audience.

There was so much to like about this show – two and a half hours of escape from the everyday grinds at a great venue with a timeless show. Even the band appeared to be enjoying it, with plenty of – yes, probably scripted – joking and digs between the members, but you know, that’s fine – it worked for me, and apparently for the rest of busy crowd across the venue.

The Forum Bath has rightly earned a reputation for hosting great shows and this is the latest to hit the high notes. No, it wasn’t the real Billy Joel, but it was still a great evening out with good friends, and will do very nicely, thank you.