Live Gig Report and Photos: Robert Cavuoto
On Good Friday evening at Madison Square Garden in NYC, the legendary Billy Joel put on his 86th show ever in MSG and his 44th as the venue’s house band. Tonight he showed his loyal followers that old rockers never die they just get better with age.
Sitting in front of a grand piano on a rotating platform, Billy’s 26-song, two hours and 30-minute set were filled with highlights of his career from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. With so many careers spanning hits, even the casual fans in attendance knew almost every tune from MTV as they were the soundtrack to their youth. The show was also part storytelling as Billy shared insights into the songs with a comedic and often sarcastic flair. Though MSG was sold out, the show Billy performed as if he was in an inmate club with his closest of friends.
His early songs like “Entertainer” and “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” were played with a vibrant sense of energy and purpose, like he was back in the smoky nightclubs seeking the audience’s approval on never before heard songs.
Often, Billy, has special guests perform with him at his concerts; tonight actor Kevin Spacey came on stage to sing a powerful duet with him on “New York State of Mind.” Who knew Kevin could sing so well! At the end of the song in true comedic spirit, Kevin asked Billy for a “selfie” on the stage of MSG!
Billy also paid a fitting tribute to the late guitarist, J. Geils (who passed away this week) by performing one of their hits “Angel in a Centerfold” between “River of Dreams.” The band also tore into a great rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock n’ Roll” between “You May Be Right” later in the set.
Fans were on their feet singing and dancing thought-out the show but the song that blew the roof off
The Garden and brought everyone to their feet came late in the set with “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” The best songs were saved for encore with “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Uptown Girl,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Big Shot,” “Only the Good Die Young,” and closer “You May Be Right” which brought fans to the pinnacle of the evening. During those encores, Billy stepped away from the piano to played guitar on “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” On “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” walked the stage giving high fives to fans while performing twirling tricks with his microphone stand.
Billy’s music has a very strong connection with his fans as his songs are forever relevant in their hearts. Fans left MSG happy, signing, and sharing stories of their favorite song performance. If you’re a fan of Billy Joel it would be worth your while to see him perform at the most famous areas in the United States as he has a lifetime residency there.