Shuffling into the “the world’s most famous arena,” I felt the buzz and excitement all around in anticipation for one of the final Billy Joel concerts at MSG after he tearfully announced his 10-year monthly residency will come to an end in July 2024.
Surrounded by eager fans in the foyer, I noticed the range of people there to see the legend that is Billy Joel.
Young kids brought along by their parents to teach them all about ‘real music,’ the seasoned Billy patrons ready for their umpteenth show, and the couples of all ages forgetting about life for a while and rekindling some romance lost in the day-to-day milieu. And me: I grew up listening to Billy Joel’s soft rock and impressive piano solos through the cooler members of my family.
Joel’s music feels personal with lyrics so descriptive you almost feel transported into the melody – and with an eclectic memoir of hits, we could all be characters in his songs.
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At one point, he delivered his signature dead-pan banter hilariously doing a Mick Jagger impression while nailing the Rolling Stone’s hit ‘Start Me Up’. Tossing his mic stand in the air and swinging his hips throughout, he ended the performance cracking: “I told you I’m no Mick Jagger”.
Lucky concert goers also got to hear his new song Turn the Lights Back On – the first released in almost two decades – as he debuted it to a live audience for the first time besides the Grammy’s, which he described as “just ya know, a TV audience”.
Thirteen songs into the show, in a very touching moment, the 74-year-old girl dad brought out his eldest, Alexa Ray, to accompany him in singing Say Goodbye to Hollywood and the famed New York State of Mind.
Joel’s band members also had their moments in the spotlight with impressive guitar, brass and vocal solos. A standout performance came from a rousing rendition of Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep Mountain High by longtime member of Joel’s band, Crystal Taliefero.
The first, and main, part of the show ended with his two stirring songs: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant and Piano Man. The crowd sang along so loudly, Joel could have turned off his microphone.
With everyone standing, Joel kept them on their feet for the encore, performing his best rockers such as We Didn’t Start the Fire, Uptown Girl, It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me and Big Shot – closing the show with the crowd-favorite You May Be Right.
It was a pretty good crowd for a Saturday (Friday) and for Joel, after two decades at the iconic MSG, the crowd were still coming to see him to forget about life for a while.