Billy Joel’s latest Madison Square Garden concert Friday featured a surprise rendition of his 1986 hit “Modern Woman,” a performance that the singer said marked the first time he has ever played The Bridge favorite live… maybe.
“This is a song that was a hit, I’ve never played this ever in concert. This is the first time we’re gonna do this song live. So we may really fuck this up,” Joel warned the audience. “At least then you know we’re not on tape and it’ll be an authentic rock n’ roll fuck-up.”
Despite the disclaimer, Joel and his band ran through an error-free rendition of one of the highlights off 1986’s The Bridge and the Ruthless People soundtrack.
Although Joel stated that Friday night marked the debut performance of “Modern Woman,” the usually reliable Setlist.fm insists that Joel played the song twice in 1987 during a tour of Australia. While the thorough concert archives on Joel’s website do not include the Australia gigs, a rough bootleg recording of “Modern Woman” allegedly from the October 31st, 1987 show in Melbourne seems to confirm that Joel in fact played the song live and, nearly 32 years later, simply forgot about it.
Either way, the performance of “Modern Woman” Friday marked the first time anyone has heard it live in over three decades, or ever. Hear the original rendition below:
Earlier this week, it was announced that Joel’s music and the characters contained within – like Brenda and Eddie, the Piano Man and perhaps the “Modern Woman” – will be the focus of a television anthology series titled Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.