Billy Joel is hoping his New Year’s Eve concert at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum ends better than the last time he rang in the new year with a Long Island show.
The Hicksville native’s show Dec. 31 marks the 25th anniversary of his memorable start to 1994, when he fell off his piano and hit his head hard enough to cause some worries.
“Since he had a cold to boot, he decided that he wasn’t in good enough shape to handle the drive back to East Hampton,” where he now lives, wrote Fred Schruers in his biography “Billy Joel.” “Instead, he stayed at the Garden City Hotel nearby, where the band camped out and Billy had reserved a room just in case.”
Joel shook off that experience long ago and, in recent years, New Year’s Eve shows have become a staple of his holiday season, as he says he would rather be working than going to a party. However, Joel has celebrated the new year in four of the past five years in Florida, where he generally rides out the winter holidays with his family and friends.
His most memorable New Year’s Eve show was in 1999 at Madison Square Garden, when everyone wondered what the new millennium would bring. The show, which was released as the live album “2000 Years: The Millennium Concert,” opened with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and closed out the 20th century with “River of Dreams.”
“Let’s get real, this is the center of the universe tonight,” Joel told the crowd, congratulating them for attending the show instead of hiding in a bunker. “I’m very proud of you because a lot of people were too chicken [expletive] to do anything tonight . . . We’re all in it together, OK?”
Dave Rosenthal, Joel’s keyboardist and musical director, calls it his most memorable show at Madison Square Garden.
“No one knew if the world was going to blow up because of the Y2K bug,” Rosenthal said. “So there was a little bit of tension in the air that turned out not to be anything.”
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Joel’s last New Year’s Eve show in the area was in 2013, when he rang in the new year at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. His performance of “You May Be Right” was broadcast live internationally as part of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve."
Since then, Joel has played a New Year’s Eve show every year, first in Orlando, then the past three years in Sunrise, Florida.
However, NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum worked to change that tradition. “We are thrilled to welcome Billy back home for what will be another momentous night in his four-decade-long history playing the Coliseum,” Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global, which operates the Uniondale arena, said in a statement. “This performance will be a celebration for Long Islanders, truly making New Year’s Eve at NYCB Live the ultimate destination to ring in 2019.”
WHO Billy Joel
WHEN | WHERE 9:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale
INFO $72.50-$204; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com