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Welcome to Rock of Agers

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The United States of Piano Man Billy Joel

For those of you who wondering, this is what happens at a Billy Joel concert: 

A mother tries to cajole her reluctant young son to twist with her to “Only the Good Die Young.” A 45-year-old man in a Billy Joel-themed softball jersey, sitting third row and visible to all, hoists aloft a New Jersey vanity license plate that reads “Joel FN” and uses it to air-drum to “Pressure.” Three 20-somethings on a ladies’ night out shoot a Boomerang of themselves swaying to “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” A sexagenarian in business attire uses a lull during Joel’s Perestroika-era ditty “Leningrad” to crush some work emails on his BlackBerry Priv. A 19,000-strong congregation—carpenter jeans and Cartier watches, Yankee caps and yarmulkes, generationally diffuse and racially homogenous—all dance, terribly and euphorically, to “Uptown Girl.”

For more than two years now, Joel has held a “residency” at Madison Square Garden, performing monthly gigs that are slated to last, in Joel’s words, “as long as there is demand.” 

What drew me out to a recent MSG show is the staggering breadth of the current demand for Billy Joel. Since launching the residency in 2014, The Piano Man has sold out the Garden 40 times with performances already scheduled into July.

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