MOSCOW — Rock star Billy Joel surprised his Soviet audience at a concert tonight when he lost his temper, overturned an electric piano and smashed a microphone on stage.
Angered by a film crew shining bright lights on the audience, Joel interrupted the lyrics of his hit single "Just a Fantasy" and shouted: "It's my show, for Christ's sake."
He then flipped over the piano he was playing at the rear of the stage and moved to the front, lifted a microphone stand over his head and smashed it on the stage.
The film crew that angered Joel is traveling with his band in the Soviet Union, making a documentary that Joel hopes to sell in order to recoup some of the $2-million cost of his tour.
"I just want to break even . . . but this is bigger than bucks," Joel told reporters after the concert, his second of six in Moscow and Leningrad. "People in the audience want to be in the dark. They want to get loose."
"It was a real prima donna act, but I have to protect my show," a perspiring Joel said later.
The Soviet audience, which filled Moscow's 20,000-seat Olympic sports complex to capacity, appeared unsure if the temper tantrum was part of the show.
Joel's anger didn't douse their enthusiasm. They thronged to the front of the stage during the last half of the concert, jumping in the air, waving their hands and clapping.
Joel also yelled at some members of the audience in front who he felt were not being responsive enough to his performance.
"Why are you here?" he screamed. "You obviously don't want to be here!"
He had similar audience problems Sunday night, saying "I've got an oil painting in this corner of the room," referring to the dearth of reaction from some sections of the stadium.