Review: Billy Joel pays tribute to Elton John at Madison Square Garden Special

Posted Oct 28, 2018 by Markos Papadatos
On October 27, veteran singer-songwriter and pianist Billy Joel headlined Madison Square Garden in New York City. This show included some Halloween classics and some cover songs by The Beatles and Elton John.
Billy Joel
Billy Joel
Mike Colucci
This was his 57th consecutive show as part of his Madison Square Garden monthly residency, as well as his 103rd career concert at this iconic venue, which is affectionately known as the "World's Most Famous Arena."
As the band and Joel took the stage, they were greeted with a warm response. Joel kicked off his set with the infectious "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)," where blue lights dimmed from the stage. He immediately broke into "Big Shot," where he showed some attitude, and the song featured a killer electric guitar solo from Tommy Byrnes. "Thank you. Good evening New York City," Joel said, greeting the crowd. "Welcome to Madison Square Garden," he added and went on to poke fun at a skull that he had on his piano.
Joel acknowledged that while his album, Streetlife Serenade, bombed in 1975, he did had a hit from it that received airplay and that was the satirical tune, "The Entertainer." He went on to deliver a neat synth-driven rendition of "The Entertainer" with his musical director Dave Rosenthal on the keyboard.
He briefly spoke about the tragedies taking place in our country this week, and he shared that he is "not here to make a speech," but he encouraged everybody to go and "vote." His live performance of "Summer, Highland Falls" was soothing, with calming visuals of the pastoral world on the giant televised screen.
"The Stranger" had a vintage vibe to it, and Joel polled the audience in his Dracula voice as to whether they wanted to hear "Just the Way You Are" or "Vienna," where the latter ballad won by a landslide.
He went on to pay homage to Elton John with "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," where yellow lights graced the stage. Joel explained that he has worked with Elton John for many years and noted that the British musician will be playing at Madison Square Garden in the next month as well, as part of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" Tour.
At that point, Joel expressed his views of what his own "farewell" tour would be like. Joel jokingly mentioned that his "farewell tour" would involve him sitting on a sofa, relaxing and eating a sandwich, with bulletproof glass around him, and no singing at all. The people would get restless and they would throw things at the bulletproof glass, and they won't ever come to see him perform again. Fortunately, for Joel that is not the case since he continues to sell out Madison Square Garden monthly, and hopefully, his retirement from touring won't be anytime soon. He proclaimed that he has the "best job in the world."
Joel continued with "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" and then tipped his hat to The Beatles with the Paul McCartney-penned "Got to Get You Into My Life." "I didn't write that one, but I wish to hell I did," he said.
Joel polled the audience again with two songs from his River of Dreams album. The choices were "Blonde Over Blue" or "No Man's Land," where the latter song won. Joel displays his rich, harking voice in "No Man's Land."
During "Say Goodbye to Hollywood," it was great to hear Joel harmonizing with background singer and rhythm guitar player Mike DelGuidice, since it felt like he was harmonizing with himself.
After playing The Addams Family theme song on piano, Joel took his fans on a trip to "Allentown," and he introduced lead guitarist Tommy Byrnes from South Shore, Long Island. "South Shore got a lot of rain today," Joel said, noting the Nor'easter that took place today in New York.
Joel went on to introduce bass player Andrew Cichon from Adelaide, Australia, after "Don't Ask Me Why." Veteran saxophone player Mark Rivera showcased his prowess on saxophone on "New York State of Mind," and they picked up the pace with "My Life."
He serenaded the audience to the mellow "She's Always a Woman," and it was followed by "The River of Dreams," where Crystal Taliefero displayed her hypnotic percussion skills, which was incorporated with a medley of "Monster Mash," which was very appropriate.
"Only the Good Die Young" earned Joel and the band a standing ovation, and Mike DelGuidice belted out "Nessun Dorma" in full force.
He closed on a high note with "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant," and his perennial classic "Piano Man." For his encore, Joel and the band returned to the stage for four additional songs. Billy Joel played electric guitar on "We Didn't Start The Fire," and it was followed by the fan favorite "Uptown Girl." He closed with "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" and "You May Be Right."
"Billy Joel wowed the crowd tonight with some Halloween themed jams," said Bryan Floyd, attendee and dedicated Billy Joel fan.
The Verdict
Overall, Billy Joel and the band were impressive at Madison Square Garden. Despite the Nor'easter and poor weather conditions, that did not stop the New York audience from attending Billy Joel's sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden, which was fun and entertaining. It garnered an A rating.