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.