Another piece of MSG history is made as Billy Joel performs in another sold-put show on his 70th birthday. To his devoted fans, he is part of the family.
As the lights went up last night and Billy Joel appeared once more at his grand piano, poised to bring the house down yet again, Madison Square Garden was already shaking.
This would be a birthday celebration to remember — Billy’s 70th — and he turned to take in every corner of The Garden, determined to soak it all in.
“Good evening, New York City,” he said, adding in New York style, “How are yoooze doin’?” Nearly everyone in another sold-out crowd was standing and roaring. For the entire night they never sat down.
“Welcome to my birthday,” he said. “It’s kind of a weird night, but what else was I gonna do?”
The message was clear. He wanted to be with old friends, and to a person, they felt as they always do with Billy Joel — that even in this grand space, he was inviting them somehow into his living room.
“I would not miss this for the world,” said Howard Klein, and to prove it he pulled out a spreadsheet charting each Billy Joel show he had ever seen. “Dec. 18, 1989, that was my first,” Klein said, as if reciting one of the great dates in history. Last night’s show was exactly his 100th, he said.
“You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy”
Fanatical and adoring. That barely captures the emotions that filled up The Garden last night. Many said they had been to every one of Billy’s concerts since he began his monthly residency at MSG in January 2014. Cheri Berry, from Farmingdale, L.I., called her idol, who grew up not far from her in Hicksville, “honest, a true Long Islander.”
Many had come some distance — from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, regarding the big event as more pilgrimage than anything else
And Sandi Lippel extended her right arm to show off a swirling tattoo — “You may be right. I may be crazy.”
Video birthday wishes flowed in from P!nk, Brian Johnson of AC/DC, Don Henley, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney. And Peter Frampton, who will perform in his own show at The Garden in September, showed up unannounced to serenade the crowd with “Baby I Love Your Way.” He joined in for the encore, as well.
Billy’s daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, herself a singer and songwriter, joined him for New York State of Mind — a reminder of her dad’s reach across generations. In the audience were scores of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons.
Alexa Ray was soon joined onstage by Billy Joel’s youngest daughter, 3-year-old Della Rose, to lead the crowd, singing Happy Birthday, and grown men and women were seen at The Garden wiping away tears.
About The Madison Square Garden Company
The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) is a world leader in live sports and entertainment experiences. The company presents or hosts a broad array of premier events in its diverse collection of iconic venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; and The Chicago Theatre. Other MSG properties include legendary sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA) and the New York Rangers (NHL); two development league teams – the Westchester Knicks (NBAGL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL); and esports teams through Counter Logic Gaming, a leading North American esports organization, and Knicks Gaming, MSG’s NBA 2K League franchise. In addition, the Company features the popular original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces New England’s preeminent Boston Calling Music Festival. Also under the MSG umbrella is TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group with globally-recognized entertainment dining and nightlife brands: Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, Beauty & Essex and Vandal. More information is available at www.themadisonsquaregardencompany.com