Billy Joel's Sept. 25 concert at Madison Square Garden has been bumped to Sept. 26 by one of the few headliners in the world powerful enough to rearrange the arena's schedule. According to Madison Square Garden, Pope Francis is now set to appear there on Sept. 25, the same day he will address the United Nations and a day after he becomes the first pope to appear before Congress -- all part of his first trip to the United States since becoming the pontiff.
Rescheduling a concert at The Garden is a rarity, done only a handful of times in a decade. However, Pope Francis' appearance is an extraordinary event, especially if he chooses to celebrate Mass at the arena. Tickets for Joel's Sept. 25 concert will be honored on Sept. 26.
The Vatican has not officially confirmed the pope's itinerary in New York except for his Sept. 25 speech before the United Nations, said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York. However, church officials have said that among the pope's proposed activities are a public Mass in Manhattan at an indoor location. Church officials at St. Patrick's Cathedral also say they are hopeful the pope will visit. Other possible activities include a motorcade to give people a chance to see him, Zwilling said.
Joel, a Hicksville native, is in the midst of a busy season. In addition to a string of stadium shows in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, Joel is set to take over the record for most performances at the Garden on July 1, when he plays there for the 65th time. In August, he will play the final show at Nassau Coliseum. And, Sunday night, Joel closed out the four-day Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee, to rave reviews.
"Joel was more than up to the task of headlining, and his crowd-pleasing two-hour, 21-song performance served up the perfect blend of crowdwork, spectacle and generation-bridging," wrote Rolling Stone, naming him "Best of the Fest."