Sting performs with Billy Joel on March 28, 2024 at...

Sting performs with Billy Joel on March 28, 2024 at Madison Square Garden, which was taped for the CBS special “The 100TH: Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden – The Greatest Arena Run of All Time” Credit: CBS/James Devaney

Billy Joel celebrated the record-setting 100th concert of his 10-year residency at Madison Square Garden Thursday night by welcoming a camera crew to record it for CBS, which will air the show  April 14 — the singer’s first-ever network concert special.

“We’re gonna be on TV tonight,” Joel told the sold-out crowd, adding, “I’m not used to being on television that much.”

Nevertheless, Joel, 74, played a high-energy, hit-driven show that kept fans on their feet for three hours. Whether sitting at his beloved Steinway piano — which rotated on a platform — or standing alone at a microphone, Joel proved himself a consummate entertainer. Between songs, he charmed his audience with small talk, did the occasional impression (his Tony Bennett was spot-on) and managed to make the world’s most famous arena feel almost as intimate as a corner nightclub.

“His music has been our best friend for our whole lives,” said Jerry Seinfeld, a fellow Long Islander who made a brief appearance on stage. “I don’t think he can understand how much his music means to us, being from where we are.”

But Joel probably does know. He began the show with “Miami 2017 (“I’ve Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway),” a song that earned a cheer for each of its many New York references.

For a man who claims to dislike cameras, Joel seemed to come alive whenever he stepped away from his piano and stood with a microphone at the front of the stage. Dressed in all black — with a leather blazer over a T-shirt — Joel sang “An Innocent Man” while matching the lyrics with insouciant hand gestures and boxing moves. He also brought four of his bandmates up to join him for a near-a capella version of his doo-wop inspired hit “The Longest Time.”

Few legacy artists can excite crowds with new material, but Joel did just that by playing “Turn the Lights Back On,” his first new song in almost 20 years. Though it’s a mournful ballad, it became the perfect occasion for fans to wave the little wrist-lights they found at their seats.

The show featured only one musical guest, Sting, who appeared in a slim three-button suit to do a jazzy, punchy version of Joel’s “Big Man on Mulberry Street.” Joel returned the favor by joining Sting for his 1981 hit with the Police, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”

After running through more than two hours of hits, from “New York State of Mind” to “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” — and a pause to allow Miller Place-raised guitarist Mike DelGuidice to sing the Puccini aria “Nessun Dorma” — Joel returned for an encore of hard-punching songs that included “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “It's Still Rock and Roll to Me” (accompanied by the original video) and “Big Shot.”

As always, Joel made sure to play “Piano Man.” That song brought the evening’s loudest singalong on the line “‘Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see / To forget about life for a while.”

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