May 10, 2024

Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden

The legendary residency from Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden is winding down and his third to last was also his 75th birthday party.

Billy Joel has played Madison Square Garden an astounding 148 times and he still has more to go. His show on Thursday night was night 102 in his decade-long residency at the world's most famous arena and this July, he'll play it one last time. At least for now. As Joel remarked about having the best gig of his life he mentioned "that doesn't mean we can't play somewhere else... or that we can't come back!" While Joel has been touring regularly around the country, he's been playing MSG once a month for the past ten years and each of those shows has the power to feel a little bit more special. While he didn't bring out any special guests for his special day, Joel isn't the act that needs someone to add some extra flair. As any of his devoted fans in attendance could tell you, his presence alone is enough and when he plays any of the many hits from his illustrious career, fans will expectedly rejoice. Of course he changes things up from time to time to keep things interesting (mostly for himself I presume), but starting off with "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" followed by "My Life" were classic moments to begin the night and got the crowd pumped up before slowing things down for "Everybody Loves You Now" and "Vienna." Continuing in his locale themed songs, "Zanzibar" was a bit more of an uptempo track and he followed it up with a cover of the Stones' "Start Me Up" for which he danced around the stage and tossed his microphone in the air to the cheers of the crowd. "An Innocent Man" was a treat and he did an incredible job hitting the notes which he told us he never imagined having to do at age 75, but with such charisma, it seemed as natural for him as when he was in his thirties. Bringing up the tempo again, "The Entertainer" featured electric keys and some charged-up energy that wonderfully eased into "Don't Ask Me Why." Still, while his numerous hits are all a lot of fun, when he shifts the theme back to the greatest city in the world, the arena melts and the emotions sweep across the room. Naturally, "New York State of Mind" was a powerful anthem that had the crowd back on their feet as images of the city flashed on the screen to wild cheers. Other fantastic tracks like "Allentown" and "Only the Good Die Young" came alive with passion and had the crowd moving again "The River of Dreams" brought some new elements into the mix with its floating melody giving into a brief Tina Turner cover moment before the band kicked back into gear and "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" was another whirlwind moment that had the crowd shouting along. Still, there's nothing quite like being at MSG when he breaks out the harmonica for "Piano Man," an unbelievable moment where the arena comes alive in all its glory as people bask in the glow of Billy playing his iconic theme song and gaining a reaction like few others can. When this residency does come to an end, losing this moment will certainly feel like the biggest loss and I'm glad to have been able to experience its magic. The encore was nothing but gold, blasting into it on guitar for an electric performance of "We Didn't Start the Fire" followed by "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" and "Big Shot" before officially ending the night with "You May Be Right." For any artist of this stature, there's always going to be the "I wish he played this song instead" moment, but it's hard to complain about hearing so many classics. 

01 "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
02 "My Life"
03 "Everybody Loves You Now"
04 "Vienna"
05 "Zanzibar"
06 "Start Me Up" [The Rolling Stones cover]
07 "An Innocent Man"
08 "The Entertainer"
09 "Don't Ask Me Why"
10 "Turn the Lights Back On"
11 "Keeping the Faith"
12 "New York State of Mind"
13 "All for Leyna"
14 "A Room of Our Own"
15 "Allentown"
16 "Only the Good Die Young"
17 "Sometimes a Fantasy"
18 "The River of Dreams"
19 "Nessun dorma" [Giacomo Puccini cover]
20 "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant"
21 "Piano Man"
22 "We Didn't Start the Fire"
23 "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"
24 "Big Shot"
25 "You May Be Right"

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