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Billy Joel plays first franchise concert at Madison Square Garden

Billy Joel performs the first show of his

Billy Joel performs the first show of his Madison Square Garden residency in Manhattan. (Jan. 27, 2014) Credit: AP

Billy Joel is now a Madison Square Garden franchise.

The new era began Monday night with "Miami 2017," as Joel became the first musician to set up a residency at a major arena, while other superstars like Britney Spears, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks are opting for smaller spaces in Las Vegas.

For Mr. New York State of Mind, though, the only possibility was to find somewhere near his Oyster Bay home so that he could commute to the shows. When the idea came up to do a residency at Madison Square Garden, both Joel and Garden officials jumped at the chance.

"I have no idea how long this is going to go," he told the audience, as he welcomed them to the first show of the run. "This is my 50th year in show business. What was I thinking?"

Their groundbreaking partnership is working well so far, as Joel focuses on catalog rarities like "All for Leyna," along with his well-known classics like "Piano Man."

Joel's monthly shows at The Garden are essentially sold out through August, with some tickets remaining for the Sept. 17 show. The monthly shows will continue for as long as the public is interested, Joel says.

And the shows are becoming the hub for a variety of Joel-related opportunities. Citi unveiled its VIP lounge Monday night, which will be a fixture at all the Joel shows, with its plush couches, photo booth, high-end lobster ravioli appetizers and, of course, a piano, for its cardholders who purchase the package.

Also in connection with the shows, Joel's entire catalog has been remastered for iTunes, including "Collected Additional Masters (1985-2007)," which gathers Joel's rare takes on songs from The Beatles, Elvis Presley and The Beach Boys.

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