Billy Joel Concert Review

There are some artists that are so iconic that even if one is not a fan, they know the music.

On Friday night, Billy Joel returned to Madison Square Garden and his residency/monthly concert. Stepping onto the stage after a near two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a feeling of giddiness that permeated the sold-out arena.

Playing both well-known hits and songs that only the dedicated fanbase would know, Joel delved into his musical past while honoring the places he came from. The audience, which was made up of both longtime fans and casual listeners who have known his music for most, if not all of their lives, responded with an energy that can only be described as electric. For his part, Joel played and sang with the energy of a performer many years his junior. Spending most of the concert at the keys, he stood for the last few songs, performing beloved hits such as “Uptown Girl” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire“.

The highlight of the evening was “New York State of Mind” and “Piano Man“. Revealing that the fireman’s helmet sitting on the piano belonged to Neil Skow, a firefighter who was on the ground during 9/11, a cheer rose from the crowd. It was as if it represented, both physically and literally, the strength that has gotten many of us through the past 20 months. Taking out the harmonica to play his best-known song, the first few notes elicited a reaction from fans that was pure joy.

It was a night to remember for all involved and from my perspective, one of the best concerts I have ever been to.


Into the Forest: A Holocaust Story of Survival Triumph and Love Book Review

Fate has a curious way of bringing people together when we least expect it.

Before World War II, Morris and Miriam Rabinowitz, along with their daughters, Rochel and Tania, lived an ordinary life. Reality changed forever with the Nazi invasion and the slow suffocation of Jewish life in Europe. Their story is told in the new book, Into the Forest: A Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and Love. Written by Rebecca Frankel, the book was published back in September.

Forced into a ghetto, the Rabinowitz family did the best they could to survive. When the mass executions and deportations began in 1942, they escaped into the Bialowieza Forest. Living there for two years, they faced starvation, illness, and constant awareness that they would be found at any minute. Before they broke out, Miriam saved the life of a young boy by pretending that he was her son.

Almost ten years later, that boy was now a man. While attending a friend’s wedding, he struck up a conversation with another guest. Telling his story of survival, the woman he was talking to revealed that she knew the mother who had saved his life. Little did he know that this disclosure would lead him to the woman who he would marry and spend many happy years together.

I loved this book. I was on tinder hooks the entire time. Even though the reader is aware that the family survived, the question of how they did so is a thriller of the best kind. The aspect that kept me reading was the post-war life of the book’s subjects. While other books of this nature may end with a small postscript, the author extends the story to their life in America and the generations that come into existence since the end of the war.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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