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I’ve always said that writing a good review is much harder than writing a bad one, mostly because when a show is sub-par, you have plenty of material to go off on, while with truly great shows the trouble is essentially writing over and over how fantastic said show was. There are only so many ways you can spin “well, that was great.”
With that, this is going to be one of the harder reviews I’ve written recently, considering just how fantastic Billy Joel’s thirty second show of his Madison Square Garden residency truly was. What always gets me is when these classic rock acts, like Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, The Moody Blues, and others who are still performing now still sound like they just came out of the studio in their prime; that’s what the New York crowd received last night. From “Angry Young Man” to “Only The Good Die Young”, Joel did what he does best: proving that he is truly “The Entertainer”.
Speaking of “The Entertainer”, Joel (playfully) dedicated that track to Donald Trump, much to the chagrin of many in the crowd; personally, I think “Big Shot” would been the proper title to dedicate to, but to each their own.
This was a very deep-cut heavy show, at least for the first half of the show, or what Joel deemed “not hits”; this included tracks like “Vienna” and “Everybody Loves You Now”. It was a welcome change of pace to throw off the crowd and not make the show a greatest hits compilation; notable omissions included “Miami 2017”, “Tell Her About It”, Streetlight Serenader”, “Keeping the Faith” and various others. Personally, I was hoping to hear my favorite deep cut “Shameless”, but it was great to hear stuff like “Big Man On Mulberry Street”.
After closing out his main set with the classic “Piano Man”, Billy returned armed with an electric guitar to deliver a powerhouse rendition of “We Didn’t Start The Fire”. His rock star charisma continued through “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me”, with Billy channeling his inner Elvis Presley and waving the mic stand around like it was a new appendage, and by the time the final notes of “Only The Good Die Young” rang out, Billy already proved himself a must see act, a much-needed anchor to the pop culture of decades past in this time where we are slowly losing our icons. It’s heartening to know that Billy seems to have just as much left in him as he did in 1975.
It was truly an awe-inspiring performance from “The Piano Man”, and anyone even remotely interested in Joel should check him out live.