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Soviet hosts don't love Joel just the way he is

Rock singer Billy Joel is blowing more minds than expected on his Soviet tour. His official Soviet hosts are reported to be furious at him for encouraging the audience to come close to the stage and dance, and have threatened to cut short his tour.

One source says the Soviet authorities threatened to cut off the power during his first concert Sunday night.

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The opening concert at Moscow's 22,000-seat Olympic stadium got off to a slow start.

This was partly because of the habitual restraint of Soviet audiences at such events, and partly to the usual well-organized security operation; at a concert several months ago by the English group UB-40, kids who started to dance in the aisles were carried out by security personnel.

The hall was divided in two. VIPs and a mixed group of more privileged spectators - many of them better dressed and slightly older than the standard rock audience; others, to judge by their Western clothing, the children of the elite - sat close to the stage.

The bulk of the audience sat further back, behind crash barriers.

A cordon of soldiers and plainclothes security men prevented spectators from getting close to the stage.

Joel seemed frustrated by the audience's coolness, and eventually told his Soviet fans that they could come close to the stage if they wanted.

``We like it better that way,'' he said.

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Kids surged forward, to dance, cheer, and occasionally try unsuccessfully to climb onto the stage.

Several others among the audience stood up on their seats and began to dance.

And for the rest of the evening, irritated security men fought a losing guerrilla war with the audience, attempting to push people off their chairs and trying to block the public's access to the front aisles.

Some of the soldiers apparently there to help keep order also came down to the front of the stage.

One soldier took off his jacket and danced furiously during some of the wilder numbers.

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