Even with a night of crowd-pleasing special guests, at a stadium in its final days with the imposing shadow of a new showplace over his shoulder, Billy Joel and his versatile band ruled the night yest
Even with a night of crowd-pleasing special guests, at a stadium in its final days with the imposing shadow of a new showplace over his shoulder, Billy Joel and his versatile band ruled the night yesterday (July 16) in the first of two "Last Play at Shea" concerts.
These will be the final live engagements for the home of the New York Mets, which began its musical legacy in 1965 with the Beatles.
If this was indeed a night for an artist and his fans, it was also a toast to New York. Joel had the partying, packed-to-the-nosebleeds crowd in the palm of his hand from the opening national anthem through an expertly paced set, with snippets of "A Hard Days Night" and "Stand By Me" laced throughout.
From the low-flying jets headed into LaGuardia to the ambitious backdrop that shifted artfully from Mets highlights to shots of the New York skyline and other landmarks, the show had a decidedly Big Apple feel. Joel quickly jumped into a rousing "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Down on Broadway), followed quickly by chestnuts like "Angry Young Man," "My Life" "Allentown," "The Entertainer," a sweeping "Billy the Kid" and jazzy "Zanzibar."
But the concert began to live up to its historic status when Tony Bennett joined Joel onstage in the midst of "New York State of Mind" to the joyous response of the crowd of some 60,000. Bennett was the first of a series of star turns, including John Mayer ("This Is the Time"), a guitar-playing Don Henley ("Boys of Summer," in a nod to the owners of the house), and a feisty John Mellencamp ("Pink Houses").
Other highlights included a romp through "Movin' Out," a particularly stirring "Goodnight Saigon," a spiritual turn on "Keeping the Faith," Joel's spectacular vocals on "An Innocent Man" and a thunderous run through "Captain Jack."
Sheepishly acknowledging early that the show wasn't technically the "last" play at Shea given Friday's concert, Joel took a shot at ticket scalpers before calling this stand, surely one of the biggest engagements of the summer, the "last double play" at Shea.
The concerts will be chronicled in a Spitfire Pictures documentary also dubbed "Last Play at Shea," due in theaters early next year. The film will be directed by Greg Whiteley and Jon Small, with Joel producing in tandem with Steve Cohen and Nigel Sinclair.