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It's been ten years since Billy Joel toured these parts, and and even longer since he released anything of significance, unless you count those classical albums he did after "retiring" from making pop records.

So this was always going to be a wander down the 59-year-old piano man's very wide, very long memory lane.

And in a two hour-plus show before a sold-out Vector Arena, Joel proved he's still got the chops, the voice and the good humour to deliver a show that was something more than a predictable nostalgia bash, even if some of the songs haven't aged as well as the voice singing them.

It wasn't Joel's often extravagant 70s pieces, such as the opener Angry Young Man that proved the night's occasional dull spots.

The most musically engaging pieces came early, often from the obscure edges from his 70s albums, whether he was chucking in a Beethoven intro to My Life or still wringing the bitterness out of the otherwise pretty Always a Woman.

But some of those 80s-to-90s hits - the likes of Allentown which sounds like Springsteen on an off night, the faux soul-gospel of River of Dreams, or the grinding historic shopping list of We Didn't Start The Fire - sure made you wish he had opted for more of the ancient stuff, like the unplayed Honesty or the title track to The Stranger.

Oh well. Joel was in good humour, whether swatting the fly constantly buzzing around his head, making self-deprecating jokes about his advancing years and personal history, or letting the band's guitar roadie "Chainsaw" sing AC/DC's Highway to Hell giving Joel with a break from the piano stool and a switch to guitar which carried him through to the new Iraq War-inspired song Christmas in Fallujah (Springsteen on that off night again).

But on the rotating piano Joel - with video screens giving close-ups of his hairy-knuckled ivory ticklings - still proved masterful, even if the vintage arrangements behind him were less than timeless - or screamed "porn-saxophone" with those beefy solos on Just the Way You are and Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.

Still, those sure went down well with the Joel faithful and the guy who played his The Entertainer up early proved he's still well up to that job title.