The first time I ever went to see a live show was in 2006. I was in the fourth grade, and my parents had scored tickets for us to see Billy Joel live at Madison Square Garden. At that point, I didn’t really know who Mr. Joel was; I had heard “Piano Man” on the stereo in my dad’s PT Cruiser, but it wasn’t until after that fateful night at the Garden that I learned to fully appreciate his work, and the work of musicians in general.
So it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that Billy Joel was the beginning of not only my show-going career, but also my tenure as high-volume consumer of music in general. I’m inclined to believe that Joel’s 1977 masterpiece The Stranger was the first album that I listened to all the way through.
If you live anywhere in the Central New York region, then you know damn well that Mr. Joel played the Dome last night. A Billy Joel concert is an event. His shows are the ones that your parents would take you to on weeknights during the school year. His shows are family affairs, and you know going in pretty much exactly what you’re going to get from one.
If you were to listen to any live recording of a Billy Joel concert, you’d hear pretty much the same thing: 20ish songs that you know all of the words to, and then a few deeper cuts. In between songs Billy will almost always mix in some standard “I’m getting old” or “isn’t (INSERT LOCAL THING) so funny?” banter. He’s got this down to a science. Stadium shows are his thing, in fact, he’s the first ever musician to become a franchise at Madison Square Garden. He’s like the Harlem Globetrotters of live music.
So was the show good? Yeah it was pretty good, it was a Billy Joel show. It’s the same show no matter where or when you see him, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth going. If you somehow haven’t managed to catch one of his shows yet, do it sooner rather than later. He’s getting older and who knows how much longer he’ll be touring.
Billy is the only person alive who can make a stadium full of 37,000 people from all over the world all feel like they’re from New York for a few hours, and that’s something special.
You can check out our photo gallery of the event by the talented Adam Gendler.
Images also courtesy of Adam Gendler