Boston loves Billy Joel, and Fenway Park routinely sells out when Joel drops by. We at New England Concert Reviews have covered his many Boston concerts and can attest to the rowdy and loving reception Joel enjoys in Boston.
But as I witnessed recently, there’s nothing quite like seeing Billy Joel on home turf, at Madison Square Garden. It was, as a friend described, akin to a church service.
Needless to say, Joel is beloved in New York / New Jersey. And with scores of sold out MSG shows during the current run, we were surrounded by fans young and old, singing along, thrilled at seeing Joel for the 5th, 10th, and even 50th (!!) time.
Billy was at home – confident, relaxed, and at the top of his game (a perch I personally feel he hasn’t left since the early 1970’s!). With a deep catalog and scores of hits and fan favorites, it’s hard to put together a setlist to cover them all. But with nearly 30 songs every night, the current run of shows come close.
Joel came out strong, opening with I Go To Extremes and Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song), and continuing with a dynamic setlist that showed off his and the band’s range in terms of themes, pace and musicality. It was great to see the band in their element as well, with a rare level of camaraderie and energy, and solos that give each band member moments in the spotlight.
As we are in the holiday season, Billy’s daughter and special guest Alexa Ray Joel came out to sing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and White Christmas. And in what’s become a standard part of Joel’s sets, guitarist Mike DelGuidice performed a moving rendition of Nessun dorma, the final aria from Puccini’s Turandot. (DelGuidice has big shoes to fill on this one – the aria was popularized by Pavarotti – and I’m happy to report that DelGuidice more than does it justice.)
I won’t pretend to be objective when I say that Billy Joel is a national treasure, and if you haven’t seen him at Madison Square Garden, it’s a must-see! Check out the tour schedule here.
- I Go to Extremes
- Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
- The Entertainer
- She’s Right on Time
- The Longest Time
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (with Alexa Ray Joel)
- White Christmas(with Alexa Ray Joel)
- Don’t Ask Me Why
- New York State of Mind
- She’s Always a Woman
- Say Goodbye to Hollywood
- All About Soul
- My Life
- Only the Good Die Young
- The River of Dreams
- Nessun dorma (Giacomo Puccini cover) (sung by Mike DelGuidice)
- Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
- Piano Man
- We Didn’t Start the Fire
- Uptown Girl
- It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me
- Big Shot
- You May Be Right