Magnanimous musical moments 1: Billy Joel

When it comes to enjoying music, there’s nothing like being in the audience watching one of your favourite artists perform live. Some of the most viscerally and physiologically pleasurable moments of my life have been in the company of sound, emotion and atmosphere circulating about my body via the acoustics, sublime or otherwise, of live venues.

There have been a few times where I’ve wanted to do something to break through that invisible barrier of the performer and the audience, but for a variety of reasons never felt compelled enough.  But there are those fans – those huge fans – who have an extra dose of chutzpah, talent and perhaps a fantasy. And sometimes, when luck is on their side, that fantasy becomes a reality.

Billy-Joel-Michael-Pollack1Over the last few years, I’ve seen some wonderful clips where this has been captured; an audience member has broken through that barrier, and, as a result, something special happens. At that moment, not only does the audience member step into the world of his or her idol for the experience of a lifetime, but the performer takes a leap of faith too – a huge gamble on the outcome.

After all, what happens if the fan is – well, a dud? And it all goes pear-shaped. And awkward? I haven’t seen those videos. But boy, have I seen the opposite.

I’ve been storing up a few of these to share as a series on HH, because they make me feel so good. I call them magnanimous musical moments, because as a result of the performer’s magnanimity, three groups are changed:

  1. the fan, who couldn’t be happier – either that night, for a week, a month or maybe the rest of his or her life;
  2. the audience, who, through the fan, enjoy the experience vicariously while still enjoying the performer, and so take an extra-special memory home with them;
  3. the performer, who, through his or her action, has consciously or subconsciously given the most wonderful gift, the willing ‘transfer of the baton’ not just of their own music – the highest honour – but acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere. And sometimes you’ve just gotta give someone a chance.

So where to start? I’m going to start with my most recent discovery, because it’s perfect. Watch Billy Joel a) make the split-second decision b) realise he’s made a good decision and c) enjoy it. Enjoy!

ps – if you have any doubts about points 1. and 2. above, check out this ‘accompanying’ video which is the perspective of Michael’s friends in the audience.


I rest my case. And if you haven’t smiled at least once in the last 10 minutes, you’re a hard person, my friend.

[Pic courtesy The Tenneseean]

One comment

  1. Certainly made me smile. Even more so after watching some more Youtube clips of Michael Pollack playing some of his own compositions. Your point 1 – an event that kick starts his career would be remembered all his life.


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