My wife and I spent an extended weekend in New York City last week doing all the exact things you should do when you’re in the city that never sleeps. We went to museums, saw stand up comedy, visited Seinfeld-centric locations, and between each of those activities I collectively ate my own weight in a combination of pizza, deli meats, and hot dogs doused in the finest deli mustard man has e’er tasted.
The highlight of our trip was the only thing possibly more New York City then any of those things- we got to see the great Billy Joel play Madison Square Garden, not an empty seat in the house.
The Piano Man is on the short list of my favorite musicians of all time and though I’d been lucky enough to go to a couple of his shows before, seeing him essentially play a home game in The Big Apple was a whole ‘nother experience- equal parts amazing and unforgettable.
Our tickets weren’t cheap but we got incredible value for what we paid given that we were just a slight incline and 30 yards starboard of the Baby Grand that Billy belted out all but a few of the night’s tunes from. That wasn’t luck, but meticulous planning with the advantage of having been to MSG for a Knicks game a few years before, knowing the layout of the shows I’d seen years before in Dallas and Oklahoma City, and the extra effort of hunting down section specific concert photos from his other shows at the Garden.
Given the strength of the Billy Joel catalog, it’s inevitable that any of his shows would be chock-full of hits, but the setlist that night seemed extra great and built perefectly. He dispersed a few deep cuts throughout including a B-side he’d never performed in front of an audience before, paid homage to his influences by covering rock gods and classical masters alike, and had every single person in the arena standing up, dancing on more than one occasion without ever having to coax us. Billy Joel at the Garden was as magical a musical experience as I’ve seen - check out the full set list below all for details.
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Billy Joel, Madison Square Garden 1.24.19
Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)
Everybody Loves You Now
Sleeping with the Television On
**Derek & The Dominos cover - “Layla” (instrumental portion of the song used as interlude)
Moving Out (Anthony’s Song)
Say Goodbye to Hollywood
The Ballad of Billy the Kid
Don’t Ask Me Why
New York State of Mind
House of Blue Lights (**Never previously performed B-side to WDSTF)
My Life (**with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” as intro)
She’s Always a Woman
Only the Good Die Young
River of Dreams
**Eagles cover - “Take it Easy”
**Puccini cover - “Nessun Dorma” featuring a guest Opera Singer
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
- ENCORE -
We Didn’t Start The Fire
It’s Still Rock N Roll to Me
You May Be Right (**including a snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”)
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PS: My only complaint about the evening’s show is that having seen Billy Joel 3 times now, a live performance of my favorite song “The Longest Time” still eludes me.
For good measure and your listening pleasure…