In the late 1980s, as the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West was thawing, a new era of transparency and openness was dawning, bringing with it political reform and cross-cultural exchange. Invited to perform in the Soviet Union, Billy Joel jumped at the chance to realize a long-time dream of performing for the Russian people.
Joel, an American musical icon, brought the Soviets their first fully-staged, high-energy rock show in 1987, with a series of electrifying stadium concerts in Moscow and Leningrad. Unavailable since its release on VHS, the original 35mm footage shot at these concerts has been restored in HD and re-mastered with six previously unreleased songs for this KUED special. Billy Joel: The Bridge to Russia Concert airs Friday, June 13 at 8:00 pm.
Joel’s historic visit to Russia became a worldwide news event, with journalists and writers covering the tour, its progress, and the effect Billy, his band, and his family were having on the Russian people. The entire tour was professionally filmed and the second Leningrad concert was simulcast on radio worldwide.
Billy Joel: The Bridge to Russia Concert features classic songs and hits including “Only the Good Die Young,” “Big Shot,” “Uptown Girl,” “A Matter of Trust,” “You May Be Right,” “Innocent Man,” “Honesty,” “Allentown,” and a cover of the Beatles’ “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
Seen and heard now, more than a quarter century later, Joel’s Russian concert tour performances stand out as among the most powerful and moving of his career.
Directed by award winner Wayne Isham, Billy Joel: The Bridge to Russia Concert was produced and restored by Emmy Award-winning documentarian Jim Brown (“Pete Seeger: The Power of Song” and “American Roots Music”).