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Review: Billy Joel performs 60th consecutive residency show at MSG (Includes first-hand account)

This marks the five-year anniversary of his sold-out residency, where Joel has played one show per month at the “World’s Most Famous Arena” for the last five years.

A Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Joel kicked off his set with “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway),” which featured his rich, husky voice, and his hypnotic piano playing. It was followed by “Pressure,” and he took the time to greet his audience.

“Thank you very much,” he said. “Welcome to Madison Square Garden. Glad you made it. It was a really shitty day today. Thank you for coming,” he added and went on to acknowledge that he has a “very good job,” and rightfully so, implying his monthly residency at The Garden.

He took his fans on a trip down memory lane to 1971 and to his Cold Spring Harbor album with the mid-tempo and soothing “Everybody Loves You Now.” After polling the audience for the following song choice, the powerhouse piano-driven ballad “Vienna” bested “Just the Way You Are.”

Joel treated the audience to the cynical “The Entertainer” from his 1974 album Streetlife Serenade. While that particular album may have not been his most popular studio offering by any means, his vivacious rendition of the song tonight more than made up for it. “The Entertainer” featured Tommy Byrnes on acoustic guitar and musical director David Rosenthal on neat synths.

He picked up the pace with “Sleeping With the Television On,” and during the follow-up, “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” archived monochromatic images of the city displayed on the giant televised screen. Andy Cichon, from Adelaide, Australia, commanded the bass.

Veteran Billy Joel band member, saxophone player Mark Rivera, displayed his tremendous talent on the woodwind instrument on such tunes as “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” and “New York State of Mind.”

After the anthemic “Allentown,” he delivered his own western theme song “The Ballad of Billy the Kid,” which was an added

Joel’s piano-driven instrumental of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” preceded the liberating “My Life,” where the got the crowd on their feet. During the ballad, “She’s Always a Woman,” his vocals were rumbling and comfortable.

“Only The Good Die Young” was one giant singalong with the audience and longtime band member Crystal Taliefero was exquisite on percussion on “The River of Dreams.” Joel immediately broke into a smooth rendition of “Take It Easy” by the Eagles, which was well-received.

Another highlight in the concert was when Mike DelGuidice (rhythm guitar player and background singer) showcased his three-octave range, on key, on “Nessun Dorma,” with Joel accompanying him on piano. They both did the late Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini justice. Joel closed his 60th consecutive residency show with “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and “Piano Man.”

For his encore, Joel rocked the electric guitar on “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” where he gave a history lesson to his fans. It was followed by “Uptown Girl,” featuring the resonant vocals of Mike DelGudice, and “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.” If that weren’t enough, Joel rounded out his lengthy set with “Big Shot,” as well as “You May Be Right.”

“Billy Joel was pretty freaking awesome tonight,” Henry Canosa said, longtime fan and attendee, about his 60th consecutive show at the “World’s Most Famous Arena.”

In other Billy Joel news, the iconic rocker announced that he will be kicking off baseball stadium shows in 2019, all of which are in conjunction to his Madison Square Garden monthly residency.

The Verdict

Overall, Billy Joel was exceptional tonight as part of his record-breaking 60th consecutive residency show at The Garden. All of the songs he played tonight certainly struck a chord with his audience, and they were with him every step of the way. They knew they were in the presence of musical greatness: the “Piano Man’s” presence.

Joel’s “Take It Easy” tribute to the Eagles was solid and noteworthy, and his entire band delivered as a whole; moreover, creative director Steve Cohen did an excellent job on the lighting design for the concert. Billy Joel’s live set garnered five out of five stars.

To learn more about acclaimed singer-songwriter Billy Joel, check out his official website.

Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 16,000 original articles over the past 15 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a five-time consecutive "Best of Long Island" winner, and in the past two years, he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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