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Elton John, Billy Joel play same old songs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —  Elton John and Billy Joel’s latest tour kicked off to a packed house on Monday, operating under the simple business model: maximized reward, exceedingly minimized risk.

The three-plus-hour event was steeped in hits and nostalgia. The youngest song was the title track from Joel’s last pop album, 1993’s “River of Dreams.”

“Speaking of unemployment, we’re just happy you’re keeping us in business. We’re happy to have a job,” Joel said after a timely spin through “Allentown,” Joel’s 1982 ballad of economic gloom.

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 just 24 shows, all sellouts. 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.”

Many of the dates on the tour are configured in 360 degrees, significantly boosting capacity in those arenas.

As on previous treks, the two men performed together at the top of the show, with their individual bands for hour-long sets, and then reunited for encores that included John’s “The Bitch Is Back,” a Beatles medley and Joel’s “Piano Man.”

The itinerary, which includes two summer performances at Chicago’s Wrigley Field is still under construction, and 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 Thursday.

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