Billy Joel recently announced the first 2019 date of his Madison Square Garden residency, which will mark his 60th concert at the New York arena since his began his monthly residence there five years ago. He’s played to capacity crowds at every single concert, and he’s tried to make each one unique by reviving songs he hasn’t touched for decades and bringing out surprise guests like Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Jimmy Fallon, Paul Simon and Miley Cyrus. Joel turns 70 in May, but he says he has absolutely no plans to end the residency anytime soon.
He first played Madison Square Garden on December 14th, 1978. There’s no video of that show in circulation, so check out this performance of “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” from England’s Old Grey Whistle Test earlier that year to have an idea of what it looked like. Not a single member of Joel’s touring band from that era remains with him this day. And Joel may have had just a bit more hair on his head back then, but his voice has somehow remained almost completely ageless. He sounds better than nearly every other rock icon of his era, even if he hasn’t released an album of new pop songs since 1993.
The lack of new music has done nothing to hurt Joel’s popularity on the road. Every summer he leaves the confines of MSG to headline stadiums across America. The shows are largely centered around the hits, though even at Fenway Park he’ll still break out some curveballs like “And So It Goes” and “Summer Highland Falls.” One thing he hasn’t done is play one of his classic albums straight through, though if his MSG residency goes long enough it’s feel inevitable that somewhere down the line he’ll shock the crowd by breaking out The Stranger, Glass Houses or 52nd Street. In the meantime, we’d settle for just a few more visits from “Captain Jack.” For some reason, he’s only done it at a single MSG show.