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Historic Event Celebrates a Living Legend

Billy Joel’s 100th Consecutive Sellout Concert at MSG
A+concert+graphic+at+Madison+Square+Garden+displaying+Billy+Joels+sold-out+performance+before+the+show.
DEREK DUDEK ’25
A concert graphic at Madison Square Garden displaying Billy Joel’s sold-out performance before the show.

As the lights turned low, you feel the Garden pulsing with the excitement of thousands of fans of the Piano Man. Everybody senses that something special is about to occur.

Billy Joel himself announced to the crowd that “everyone was going to be on TV,” as the event was set to air as a CBS special on April 14. And before that, the audience was promised a few “surprises” throughout the night.

Jerry Seinfeld giving a speech honoring Billy Joel as the wristbands of thousands of fans light up the arena. (DEREK DUDEK ’25)

Every attendee had received a wristband when they got to their seats, and throughout the night, the wristbands were controlled and simultaneously lit up with different colors to go along with the music. Red and white, for example, to go along with the wines in “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”

After starting off strong with “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” and “My Life,” none other than New York icon Jerry Seinfield came onto the stage to honor Joel. He delivered a speech celebrating Joel’s career, emphasizing the importance of his music.

“Vienna” followed, a 10/10 track from The Stranger that’s still relevant today, with 450+ million streams on Spotify. As he played “The Downeaster ‘Alexa’” next, Joel had tapped into four different albums in as many songs, displaying the brilliance and vastness of his career. Before he sang “An Innocent Man,” he stepped up in front of the mic and warned the audience that he may struggle reaching the high note in the chorus– his voice was 41 years younger when he recorded it. And to the surprise of nobody, his warnings were unnecessary, as he sang “I am” to perfection.

The quarter-way mark of the show was Joel’s doo-wop-styled single which reached #14 on Billboard Hot 100 & #1 on Adult Contemporary Chart: “The Longest Time.” Joel then played his new single “Turn the Lights Back On” for only the second time live. My mother’s persistence to crying during this song continued at the show (check out the link to see more).

Billy Joel and Sting sing “Big Man on Mulberry Street”, supported by the lead trumpet and brass behind them. (DEREK DUDEK ’25)

The fun wasn’t going to slow down any time soon, as Joel now decided to bring out one of his “favorite musicians:” Sting. The Police frontman came out singing his rendition of the jazzy, brass-infused “Big Man on Mulberry Street” (from Joel’s album The Bridge) as the crowd cheered with the promise of another “surprise” that night being fulfilled. Joel then said “Let’s do one of your songs,” and Sting told his good friend, “Every little thing you do is magic, so let’s do that.” And of course, the two graced the audience’s joy-filled ears with Sting’s smash hit, “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” as the Garden echoed with thousands singing along to every word.

At this point, the CBS special was sure not to disappoint. Joel kept the night rolling with “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” and “Half a Mile Away,” and we weren’t even halfway through.

“The Entertainer,” “Don’t Ask Me Why,” and “Allentown” were up next, classics from 1974, 1980, and 1984, respectively. The World’s Most Famous Arena was still filled with high energy late into the night to songs that came out half a century ago. Joel’s impact on music and society as well has been unmatched.

Now began the final stretch before the encore, and Joel came out swinging. “Only the Good Die Young” was just phenomenal, the song rocking as hard as ever. “The River of Dreams” kept the hits going, followed up by multi-instrumentalist Crystal Taliefero wielding her powerful voice to bring the spirit of Tina Turner to the stage with “River Deep – Mountain High” (very clever to connect those two songs there, I know). Mike DelGuidice then lit up Madison Square Garden with the famous Italian opera piece “Nessun Dorma,” leaving the audience in awe of yet another incredible voice to grace the stage.

Joel then went into the break with about as strong of a song duo as a musical act can possibly get: “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” and “Piano Man.” Joel didn’t need to sing a note in the latter tune; at a couple points, he leaned away from the mic and 19,500 fans sang the entire chorus in beautiful unison. I got goosebumps singing along to one of the most iconic songs of all time alongside a sold-out arena. A truly special moment.

The Long Island legend kicked off the encore with “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” While both of my parents knew every word, I’ll admit I had to take advantage of the internet for that one–no chance I was remembering “Syngman Rhee” or “Ayatollah’s in Iran”.

The final few songs were all top-tier, vintage Joel: “Uptown Girl,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Big Shot,” and “You May Be Right” (to which I went absolutely wild at my seat). As he sang “…turn out the lights!”, the Garden went black, adding to the thrill and perfection of the night.

The coordinated light bracelets on every attendee made for a breathtaking spectacle to pair with the flawless performances of both Joel and his celebrity guests.

I’ve seen 24 concerts in my life (yes, I keep count, don’t judge me), including some amazing shows at MSG, like Rage Against the Machine, TOOL, Justin Timberlake, and Billy Joel two other times. I’ve loved every one of them, but this concert felt different. It felt like one of those legendary events that you’ll never forget. Because it was. Joel will finish his all-time arena run with his 150th Madison Square Garden show this July, capping off yet another remarkable chapter in his illustrious career.

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About the Contributor
DEREK DUDEK ’25
DEREK DUDEK ’25, Staff Writer

Derek Dudek is a staff writer for "The Eagle's Eye," and has been since his freshman year of high school (3 years). So far, he's contributed specifically to the sports section of the paper (Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Baseball, etc.), while also adding to other areas as well (ex. Metallica New Album Review). Aside from writing for the "Eye", he is an active member of the band, including Wind Ensemble & Jazz (retired from Marching Band). He also is on the Football, Bowling, and Volleyball teams. Outside of EHS, Derek has trained to work up degrees as a black belt, volunteered, and participated in various recreational sports leagues (ex. flag football & basketball).

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