We grabbed some Jewish deli delights at a French inspired diner off Broadway before walking back over to Madison Ave for some Neuhaus chocolates and Formula 1 watch shopping. Having perfected the city speed walk, we’d make it to Madison Square Garden with time to spare and grab some New York style pizza as part of the preshow.
Balancing a coke in one hand and two boxes of personal pizzas in the other, I diligently followed the usher and Stark to where our seats were. I knew we had chosen to sit side stage. We purchased them after some research. I thought for sure that the view wouldn’t be obstructed by anything despite the fair warning the tickets gave.
The usher flashed his lights towards row three and pointed out our two seats. Stark laughed out loud and I stood in speechless awe as we realized these seats were, in truth, the first row in a slightly elevated side section that still looked straight on at the front of the stage – far superior to those sitting below the stage in GA. Here I thought I wouldn’t cry until Billy started playing New York State of Mind, but the show hadn’t even started and I was already in tears. This was, without a doubt, the greatest dream I’ve had to ever come true! I jumped up and down. I hugged Stark. I thanked him a thousand times as we both could find no better words to describe that moment than, “Holy Shit!”
The show started right on time, long before everyone found their seats. I had no idea if there would be an opening artist or who it may be, but as this somewhat familiar looking face came running out on stage, I thought to myself, “Ha, this guy sounds like Gavin DeGraw.” I had no idea it WAS Gavin. I semi jokingly told Stark that it was all a sign. Gavin had been one of the first albums I ever marketed as a College Rep for Sony Music at the end of 2007.
Doing my digital duty to upload some live photos to Instagram, I found myself scrolling across a recent update from my cousin Sam. (Remember him? I mentioned him in this post and told you to remember it!) He was playing in New York City that night. I couldn’t help it. I turned to Stark again and said, “You know who I give all my initial musical credit to right? So guess who’s playing in NYC tonight… besides Billy Joel.” I insisted it truly was an omen now. Billy Joel and my cousin, playing a show in New York City on the same night. My future in music seemed almost absolute as I sang along to a few Gavin DeGraw songs I knew from years past and posted a picture just perfect enough for the bass player to repost on Instagram and Twitter as soon as he left the stage.
But now it was time. It was time for that one thing I’d been waiting for most of my life. I starred at the glowing Madison Square Garden sign while the stage was being prepped for the Piano Man himself.
I think I went a little insane for a moment. I barely remember what happened first. I’m pretty sure his first song was Pressure and without any regard for anyone around me, I became THAT girl that’s half screaming, half singing all the lyrics while jumping up and down in my seat. I can only hope it was loud enough that only Stark had to suffer my excitement.
He played for almost an hour and a half before leaving the stage only for a moment before continuing with an encore of four more songs. He never sang We Didn’t Star the Fire or My Life. He never sang Saigon. But he pulled out some oldies I had forgotten about and some goodies I was never very familiar with. He has, after all, only come out with about two albums in my life time and River of Dreams hardly counts as classic Billy Joel in my mind (yet still relentlessly catchy).
The performance was impeccable – far better than I expected anyone to perform after 50 years in entertainment. Between songs, he was witty with his band and even more so with the audience. He started singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight very briefly as he acknowledged having been on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon the night before.
He started singing a short bit of Your Song from Elton John before insisting, “We’re good friends, don’t believe what you read.”
He segued in the middle of one song to sing the Beatles.
To my complete surprise, he announced a “good friend of his” as the “best live show he ever had the pleasure of seeing.” Then, there he was. Brian Johnson, the lead singer of ACDC ran out on stage and performed a rousing “Shook Me All Night” with Billy Joel and his band.
He glared at his sax player who mouthed the obvious, “Sorry boss!” before calling him out on a key change.
He laughed out loud and seemed wowed by the audience. He had us all on a hook. He could do no wrong.
The entire show was unreal and if I could, I’d go back every month. His show is sold out through the end of 2014 and he has vowed to continue playing MSG for charity until the shows no longer sell out. He insists on making every show different. So, if you plan to see Billy Joel in the near future, you can expect different surprises and a mix of his greatest hits.
I jumped up and down in place. I screamed and sang to a point that I am surprised I had any voice left at all. I got teary eyed, again. I think I nearly squeezed Stark to death multiple times. As the show ended, I was the one who pushed through the crowd and ran for the merch table to score a memorable Tshirt. I can say without a doubt that it was one of the best nights of my entire life thusfar. I have followed many bands in my time, but I would easily trade every one of those experiences if it could have guaranteed me this one night with the love of my life and Billy Joel.
As I can’t describe the night in any way that will truly express how excited I was and how grateful I am, let these videos speak for themselves. Disclaimer: Apologies for the laughing, screaming, and singing along. That’s me. Yup…
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