Billy Joel  Sting

Billy Joel and Sting made an excellent first post-COVID Tampa show when they co-headlined as co-headliners, each of them performing outstandingly well. Sting’s 16 song set was distinguished by grace as much as musical power.

He performed “New York State of Mind,” with a backdrop depicting the Brooklyn Bridge, before inviting Sting – dressed like Frank Sinatra with suit and hat – for a jazzy rendition of “Big Man on Mulberry Street.” No rain fell during this show!

About the show

Under a glittering full moon, Raymond James Stadium was filled with cheers as the “Piano Man” and Sting launched an evening of hit-laden performances at Raymond James Stadium. Both artists boast impressive solo catalogs as well as joining forces on duets throughout their performance.

Sting kicked off the show with a 16-song set that featured tracks from both his solo catalog and work with The Police. Shaggy joined him during this set to perform “Englishman in New York”, an original song from 1987’s…Nothing Like the Sun album.

Joel took the stage midway through his set to perform “Turn the Lights Back On”, his latest song from his extensive catalog. Fans enthusiastically waved wrist-lights as Joel performed this track featuring many New York references that delighted the audience. They will continue co-headlining throughout 2019, including Petco Park in April; see video footage of their opening performance here in Tampa below.

Opening Act

Sting stepped onto Raymond James Stadium stage Saturday to a standing ovation and performed strong and vibrant renditions of songs that have been heard before, such as “Roxanne.” When his set closed with “Roxanne,” audience reaction was overwhelming and Sting seemed like he was truly enjoying himself during his 83-minute set.

Sting is a master of his craft. Few legacy artists can engage the audience as effectively as Sting, turning “Turn the Lights Back On” lyrics into an incendiary New York rallying cry. Additionally, his 1993 hit “Heavy Cloud No Rain” still held up well and Shaggy even joined him for a duet performance of their hit “Englishman in New York.”

Sting’s Set

Sting made his presence felt with his legendary hits, including an amusing duet with Joel on “Big Man on Mulberry Street.” At 71 years old, Sting looked every part the elder statesman but sang like an absolute pro!

Tampa audiences were drawn into his 16-song opening set from the opening chords of Message in a Bottle and Englishman in New York, which also included three songs from 2021’s My Songs, instantly. As he introduced each tune he shared small stories about inspiration for its composition as he went along – for instance before beginning Brand New Day he reminded them that Stevie Wonder played harmonica on its original recording and thanked Shane Sager, his own harmonicist, for beautifully echoing those pieces on Brand New Day as an intro before beginning it himself!

Joel could have brought back Englishman in New York for another encore performance, but instead chose to end his set with “Fragile,” an emotionally stirring track which left a lasting impression, much like Sting’s set did at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night.

Joel’s Set

Under a bright full moon and amid an enthusiastic cheer from Raymond James Stadium’s patrons, Billy Joel took to the stage.

New York native John Legend brought plenty of Empire State pride to the audience. Clips from Brooklyn Bridge flashed during an energetic “Movin’ Out,” while clips from Statue of Liberty flashed during his triumphant “New York State of Mind.”

There was much delight to be had from doo-wop and Stax dance party sounds (“The Longest Time,” “Uptown Girl,” and Easy Money”. Additionally, The Drifters brought a honeyed but dramatic sound on a poignant ballad called “She’s Always a Woman.”

His set culminated with a heartrending rendition of “Turn the Lights Back On,” his first original composition since 2007. Crystal Taliefero and Liberty DeVitto provided accompaniment with acoustic instrumentation as well as Latin percussion such as maracas, castanets, triangles, claves and rachet that added weight and gravitas to this poignant tune.