Elton John and Billy Joel’s Face to Face tour kicked off its latest incarnation last night to a packed house in Jacksonville, Fla., operating under the simple business model: maximized reward, exceedingly minimized risk.
Opening night of the duo’s wildly successful co-headlning tour was a three-plus-hour event steeped in hits and nostalgia (the night’s youngest song was Joel’s “River of Dreams” from ’93) that varied little from previous incarnations, from its format to its ticket prices.
Joel acknowledged as much during his set, thanking the crowd after a spin through “Allentown.” “Speaking of unemployment,” Joel said, “we’re just happy you’re keeping us in business. We’re happy to have a job.”
Joel’s words rang true, but there wasn’t much worry about that: They last toured together in 2003, when they grossed $45.8 million from only 24 sellouts, an average of nearly $2 million per night, according to Billboard Boxscore. Top tickets prices for this tour are similar to those of the 2003 dates: around $175. “Our ticket prices are the same as you’d see anyone else, but there’s two of us,” John said in a November 2008 appearance on “The View.” “In this day and age, we hope to be getting people value for their money.”
As previously reported, many of the dates on the tour are configured in 360 degrees, significantly boosting capacity in those arenas.
Little had changed in the playbook from previous years. The two men performed together at the top of the show, with their individual bands for hour-long sets, and then together again for encores that included “The Bitch Is Back,” a Beatles medley and, naturally, “Piano Man.”
The itinerary, which includes two summer performances at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, is still under construction, and according to one of the bosses, will be for some time yet. During his set, John said he was looking forward to “a couple of years” of dates. The tour next visits Tampa’s St. Pete Times Forum on March 5.