BJ at MSG— What a Grand (Piano) Night


I was in NY this past weekend to film for six CNN shows, the second season of Finding Jesus, and in the evenings I had free time. The weather was fabulous, and I was staying in Manhattan at the Hotel Chandler, so I could walk everywhere, including on Saturday night to Madison Square Garden, to see NY’s native son, Billy Joel, a lad from Oyster Bay Long Island. I’ve always loved his music, right from the beginning in 1970-71. Piano Man became his signature song, and what he was called in the industry, and still is. Ironically, his breakthrough seems to have come during a three years hiatus in L.A., but he’s been home for a long time since then. This year he is doing one concert a month at MSG, the home and venue of so many famous events– musically and in terms of sports as well. And just the night before, the Pope had held mass in MSG. In fact, Billy’s concert had been scheduled originally for Friday night, and Billy graciously agreed to move his show up a night. He joked during the concert that he got a nice letter from Cardinal Dolan thanking him– “this is my get out of Hell free card” said Billy, adding “and I need it!” Everyone laughed. Perhaps the last major concert that was turned into a massive DVD was the Rock and Roll Hall of fame 50th anniversary show where most all the old leading lights showed up. Tonight, however it was all Billy’s show, and he played for two and a half hours a nice overview and retrospective of his whole body of work, and he gave us some choices– pick between these two songs from the Stranger, or these two songs from Turnstiles etc. It was fun. Here are some of the shots I took from in the Garden. Note that Billy even has a banner in the rafters he’s played there so many times!


There was not a lot of glitz and pyrotechnics to the show, but only bands with less talent really need that to pump up the crowd (see e.g. Kiss)but there were a few interesting things—

As for the play list it included—- Big Shot, My Life,Vienna, Zanzibar, Say Goodbye to Hollywood,The Entertainer, The Downeaster Alexa, Allentown, New York State of Mind, No Man’s Land, Movin’ Out, Keeping the Faith, Don’t Ask Me Why, She’s Always a Woman, We Didn’t Start the Fire, The River of Dreams, Scenes From an Italian Restaurant, Piano Man, Uptown Girl, It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, You May Be Right / Rock and Roll and much more. My two favorites were Zanzibar and Movin Out, but it was all good. The back up musicians were very good, especially the horn players (no surprise since there are a zillion of them hanging around in the clubs in NY). And as for one satisfied customer—- here he is!

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