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article imageReview: Billy Joel puts fans in the holiday spirit at MSG residency show Special

By Markos Papadatos     Dec 12, 2019 in Music
New York - On December 11, the "Piano Man" Billy Joel performed his final sold-out Madison Square Garden residency concert of 2019, which was well-received.
Joel opened his set with "I Go to Extremes," which earned him a standing ovation, and it was followed by "Movin' Out," which has a neat nostalgic backdrop, as well as the piano-laden ballad "Vienna," whose background was visually striking.
"Thank you," he said. "Good evening. Welcome to Madison Square Garden. This is show No. 71," he said, referring to his consecutive sold-out residency show, prior to nothing that he will be including Christmas songs in his set tonight.
He took his audience on a trip down memory lane to 1975 to his Streetlife Serenade album, where he performed "The Entertainer," a song that "bombed" at the time, however, it wasn't a bomb last night at The Garden. "The Entertainer" was sheer bliss, and it featured his musical director David Rosenthal's prowess on the keyboard.
Joel went on to describe "She's Right on Time," as the closest thing he ever recorded to a Christmas song. He introduced his drummer Chuck Burgi from New Jersey.
He had the crowd snapping their fingers on the doo-wop "The Longest Time" classic, and he delivered a vocal and harmony masterclass with his gifted band members. He also introduced his long-time guitar player Tommy Byrnes on lead guitar, who is from South Shore, Long Island.
His daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, was his special musical guest, who joined him on several holiday songs, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," where she showcased her rich, crystalline voice, as well as an upbeat version of "White Christmas," which was festive and fun.
Following "Don't Ask Me Why," Joel introduced his bass player, Andrew Cichon from Adelaide, Australia, and he immediately broke into his 1978 tune, "Zanzibar," which was off his seminal studio album 52nd Street. He introduced Carl Fisher on the trumpet, who hails from South Shore, Long Island. "I put together a non-hit list tonight," Joel said, jokingly, referring to his setlist choices for the evening.
Joel and his veteran saxophone player Mark Rivera nailed "New York State of Mind," and they went on to take their fans on a virtual journey to "Allentown" thanks to the stunning backgrounds on the televised screens.
Flutist Sydney Ruggles joined him on "She's Always a Woman" as the audience was moved by this polished ballad, and it was followed by the infectious "Say Goodbye to Hollywood," as well as "All About Soul" from his River of Dreams album.
Joel picked up the pace with "Only the Good Die Young" and he played "Joy to the World" on piano, prior to "My Life." "The River of Dreams" was incorporated as a medley with "O Come, All Ye Faithful," where his long-time band member Crystal Taliefero was able to shine bright like a diamond, as always.
Band member Mike DelGuidice (rhythm guitar and background vocals) was equally amazing, and comfortable, on his soaring version of "Nessun dorma," where he captured the essence and the heart of the classical crossover classic, and it was well-received by all.
A Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Joel closed with such heavy-hitter songs as "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" and "Piano Man."
Of course, he returned for an encore for his loyal fans, especially since no Billy Joel show is complete without such smash hits as his Grammy-nominated "We Didn't Start the Fire," "Uptown Girl," "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," "Big Shot," and "You May Be Right," all of which were captivating.
The Verdict
Overall, Billy Joel was sensational for yet another sold-out Madison Square Garden residency show, and his ever-talented band members (Mark Rivera, Tommy Byrnes, David Rosenthal, Andrew Cichon, Chuck Burgi, Crystal Taliefero, Mike DelGuidice, and Carl Fisher) were equally remarkable. It was a great way to round out 2019, and his fans and listeners can only look forward to more headlining shows at the "World's Most Famous Arena" in 2020. Billy Joel and his music are a true American institution, and his live set garnered an A rating.
To learn more about singer-songwriter Billy Joel and his music, check out his official website.
More about Billy joel, Madison square garden, New york, piano man, Singersongwriter
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