Billy Joel Plays Holiday Songs & Rarities At 75th Madison Square Garden Residency Concert
Watch The Piano Man lead his band on holiday classics and deep cuts.
Billy Joel returned to Madison Square Garden on Monday for the 75th installment of his monthly residency at the iconic New York City venue. The Piano Man worked a handful of rarities among the hits into last night’s setlist and also performed portions of holiday songs during just his second show at MSG since the pandemic began.
Monday’s concert came as COVID-19 cases in New York City spiked leading to many cancelations of indoor events across the Big Apple. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Billy Joel concert would move forward during a press conference yesterday before the Long Island native took the stage. MSG Entertainment confirmed the mayor’s announcement and told Bloomberg.com all concerts and events at the venue will proceed including Phish‘s four-night New Year’s Eve run.
It didn’t take long for Billy Joel to address the elephant in the room last night. Joel followed the pairing of “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” and “Pressure” by thanking the crowd for waiting a year and a half as the concert was postponed from 2020 due to COVID-19. “What a pain in the ass,” Joel told the audience. “It’s a little dicey out there but anyway I’m glad you made it. Just be safe, okay.”
Billy Joel’s concert rolled on with 1971’s “Everybody Loves You Now,” a song from Cold Spring Harbor played for the first time in over two years at his return to The Garden last month. Joel had another surprise soon thereafter as he dusted off The Nylon Curtain deep cut “She’s Right On Time” for just its 13th live performance as per Setlist.FM. “She’s Right On Time,” Joel’s lone holiday song which was performed once per year between 2013 and 2019, featured a taste of “Tis The Season To Be Jolly” before the band offered a snippet of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” A few songs later came a partial performance of “Frosty The Snow Man.”
The 72-year-old musician went on to play “And So It Goes” for the 17th time during the residency and introduced “My Life” with “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Next came a Led Zeppelin medley that incorporated ragged versions of “Good Times Bad Times,” “Dazed & Confused” and “Kashmir.” Joel admitted he didn’t know the lyrics to the latter so multi-instrumentalist Mark Rivera handled vocals on the partial cover. Another deep cut followed in “Sleeping With The Television On.” Joel has only performed the Glass Houses track 39 times with the most recent play before last night coming on September 14, 2019.
The rarity led into singalong takes on “Jingle Bells” and “Sleigh Bells.” Joel told the crowd of the latter, “We don’t know that one at all but it’s fun to play shitty” and added, “I haven’t been drinking, I swear” after “Sleigh Bells.” Billy then led his band on “She’s Always A Woman” before offering up his 31st version of “A Room Of Our Own” off 1982’s The Nylon Curtain. The remainder of last night’s concert saw Joel focus on hits with the occasional holiday song thrown in for good measure. “New York State Of Mind,” “Only The Good Die Young” and “River Of Dreams” were followed by a taste of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” before the main set ended with “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” and “Piano Man.”
Monday’s encore began with “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” Billy Joel then led his band through “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” and “Big Shot.” A partial cover of “Joy To The World” came next ahead of the evening’s “You May Be Right” finale. Joel returns to the MSG stage on January 14.
Watch fan-shot video footage from last night’s concert below captured by Jim Powers:
Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden
- Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
- Everybody Loves You Now
- Deck the Halls
- She's Right on Time
- White Christmas
- The Entertainer
- Frosty the Snow Man
- Don't Ask Me Why
- And So It Goes
- My Life
- Good Times Bad Times / Dazed and Confused / Kashmir
- Sleeping With the Television On
- Jingle Bells
- She's Always a Woman
- A Room of Our Own
- New York State of Mind
- Only the Good Die Young
- The River of Dreams
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
- Piano Man
- We Didn't Start the Fire
- It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
- Big Shot
- Joy to the World
- You May Be Right
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