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Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden

Happy birthday husband of mine :).  The concert we've waited months for was finally here!

Once we got some breathing space from the crowd;
we traded photography with another group

And it turns out Madison Square Garden is only a couple blocks from the hotel - amazing.

So - step one - figuring out how to get in.  Kudos to the security guy at the front gate who said “the line’s much shorter at 7th Ave” - win!  He didn’t even lie.  It took us a while to *find* that entrance - incl circling around the hole in the ground that used to be the hotel C had asked me to look for 😂.   But we did get there and the crowd moved reasonably quickly, and I was more amused than I should’ve been by the security guard who was praising everyone who managed to follow his (very simple) instructions with an enthusiastic “good” and a nod, even more amusing causes this was not a small man, and the Brooklyn accent just completed the whole image.

We got in comparatively quickly

Anyways - no issue, in and seated, made friends with the people next to us (woman and her kid - woman is a teacher and kid plays Pokémon.  And C has all sorts of magical pokés on his phone that he’s usually willing to share.  So Cindy - originally from NJ who now lives on Long Island - gave us some suggestions to try so that’s always nice.  Esp when much of it aligned w similar advice from others who know stuff.

We were front row of the balcony

So our seats were *amazing* front row of the balcony and the show was excellent.   Lighting and visuals better than I'd anticipated but also, I really enjoyed the commentary between songs which, most concerts, I’d rather fast-forward through.  He was legitimately funny in a self-depreciating and humble way and while of course I have no idea what he’s life IRL, if it’s anything like his stage persona, he's probably pretty decent.  I understand he’s a star and has been doing this a very long time, but so have many others and most of them at best don’t add anything and at worst make me severely dislike them (*cough*GNR*cough*).  Also, the interactions w his crew showed the type of relationships you can’t get if there’s not real respect there; I do wonder if some of them might’ve been with him from the beginning.   Also, not quite the same age lol but there was a woman in his backup crew, Crystal Taliefero, who was unbelievably amazing.  Played…. Idk 6?  8?  Diff instruments on stage AND had a seriously impressive voice (one of only two solos in the whole performance to give the star a chance to chill). 

(edited after I got home to add -- I had to google her last name, she's been touring with Billy Joel since 1989?!?!  Which means A - justifies my first thought that his team has been with him for a while, and B - apparently I was off on my age guess!  Energy, looks, and enthusiasm for the win.  I'm also going to incl this quote from her website because it summarises why I was so impressed (note the "in addition" 😂!): "in its 2008 article The 125-Plus People, Places and Things Ruling the Rock & Roll Universe, Rolling Stone magazine declared Taliefero the "Best Secret Weapon." Instruments in Taliefero's percussion kit include the bongo, cabasa, chimes, conga, cowbell, güiro, hand percussion, jam block, shaker, tambourine, timbales, triangle, the Djembe, and wood block. In addition, Taliefero plays acoustic guitar, sax, keys and all vocals".

The screens significantly increased the impact of the show

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.  The place was *packed*.  I took a couple videos - two songs for C and one for me, and some pics, but mostly I really just enjoyed the show.  I also love how in recent decades the tradition of waving a lit lighter has been intentionally replace by a glowing cell phone - to almost exactly the same effect.

I was also impressed by the thought and artistry in the attention to details.  Times when you could see Billy on the big screen with Madison Square Garden also highlighted and times when you couldn’t see anything but his face.   Lots of lights or none.  Full colour or black and white.  Same thing one multiple screens or all different.  His piano rotated - not wildly of course but enough that everybody on either side of the stage or in front got equal turns of him facing them.  The for the people *behind* the stage, when he wasn’t on the piano, he’d walk behind so they could see him.  

I’m still grinning.   There were a few songs I didn’t recognize (not shockingly) but he also definitely played everything I was hoping to hear.  And the crowd was WAY into it.   “It's Still Rock n Roll to Me”- for this one on the big screen it flashed back to his original video.   Perfect song for it and incredibly well done.  Particularly interesting to me was how it inspired nostalgia even though I was a toddler then and definitely oblivious "grown up" music.  

The only thing I really didn’t like was leaving.   Seriously claustrophobic.  It was the first time in my life I’ve ever really understood how people die getting trampled leaving stadiums - esp when something bad happens.   I’m comparatively small and agile so I can usually dart through a crowd if I need to.  There was no way.  None.   We got out with absolutely no problem but it was the opposite of fun.   Not sure if the Rogers Centre (I def typed Sky Dome first) is better designed, or just doesn’t seat as many people, but I’ve never felt that there and now have a new appreciation for those huge ramps.   And for the record, this wasn’t a culture clash thing: everybody was being calm and civilized.  Fairly remarkable actually.  Just sheer volume in a space that seemed remarkably poorly designed for it.   Eventually we got almost out and a security guy was basically begging people to turn around and go down to Pen Station and out from there.   Given how that had worked out the first time, we followed his advice to and that was a huge win.  We’d been in the crowd a LONG time at that point so a shortcut out - esp when we didn’t care where “out” dropped us - was awesome.

Ironically, next year there is a show actually ON Chris' bday ;)

On complete randomness - there are two different types of employees I saw today that I was super-impressed by and I wish I had the ability to pay them a ton to run the world.   The first were the two women managing the ladies room.  For the men out there or the ladies who’ve managed to avoid public events all their lives, this is usually a nightmare situation.  Long lines, leading to disgusting or non functional facilities, etc etc.   These two had it under control.  If anyone went in a stall and opted out of using it, it was checked instantly, supplies were being updated throughout, and the floor mopped as it was being used.  The line was insane but I’ve never experienced such efficiency before.   Little things, but wow.  Then the other one were the couple rickshaw cyclists who had clued in to playing Billy Joel on their speakers while trying to entice customers.  Fairly brilliant sales plan.  I didn’t see a single one of those empty for more than a few seconds while the non-Billy-playing ones sat empty.  

So yes - super fun night.  Honestly WAY better than I’d hoped.   

We ended by walking up to Times Square for the night edition.  While I am glad we went, it is so the opposite of my thing that I don’t think I ever need to do it again lol.  Iconically and/or stereotypically American - garishly loud, over the top, sensory overload, and almost as bright as daylight.   For she who loves night for the calm, quiet, and dark - it’s a different take.   😂. There’s a reason Vegas doesn’t call to me.   Different people were doing the same show we watched this afternoon with less skill yet a bigger audience - we didn’t stick around this time lol.  

Chris feel asleep ages ago, but I wanted to get this down while all the impressions were fresh.   It’s a wild ride for sure, and I’m definitely glad I’m getting to experience it.  Tomorrow I think the goal is Central Park (maybe an actual tour?) and the musical Chicago - which I’ve never seen live before.   Night!


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