Billy Joel celebrated his first Long Island New Year’s Eve concert in 25 years at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum with a set packed with fan favorites and local flavor.
He welcomed in 2019 with the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” paired with “Only the Good Die Young.”
He talked about finally graduating from Hicksville High School 25 years after he was supposed to, as he introduced “This Is the Time,” joking: “Now I can finally get out of this dead-end job.” He offered a prayer for Long Island’s baymen following “The Downeaster ‘Alexa.’ ” And he threw in some surprises, like adding bits of “Layla” and “Sunshine of Your Love” into “Movin’ Out,” and closed the night with an epic version of “You May Be Right” mixed with Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.”
“I don’t play Long Island much anymore,” he said. “But I live here.”
Throughout the 26-song, 160-minute set, Joel, 69, was clearly enjoying himself, donning a New Year’s Eve hat and bantering with the Uniondale crowd — fans of all ages who filled the Coliseum to capacity, wearing shiny hats that somehow survived the damp walk through a serious rainstorm.
Despite being a bit soggy initially, fans were ready to party, hoping to help Joel have a better New Year’s Eve than he did the last time he ended his year at the Coliseum, when he fell off his piano and hit his head hard enough to decide that he didn’t want to drive back to his East Hampton home, spending the night at the nearby Garden City Hotel instead.
Of course, that didn’t sour Joel on New Year’s Eve shows, though his year-end shows are usually in Orlando or Sunrise, Florida, because those arenas are closer to his winter home. His last New Year’s Eve show in the area was in 2013 at Barclays Center.
His show Monday night offered Long Island fans a rare chance to celebrate with him. And Dan Lerner said he couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate his 24th birthday Monday night than with Joel.
His mom, Maria, and younger brother David, laughed when asked if he was a fan.
“Don’t say I’m a stalker,” said Dan Lerner, who lives in Melville when he’s not in Harvard Law School. "Billy Joel has just always been a special figure in my life. His music just brings back so many memories of fishing with my dad.”
Big Shot / Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway) / The Entertainer / Vienna / The Downeaster ‘Alexa’ / Big Man on Mulberry Street / This Is the Time / Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) > Layla > Sunshine of Your Love / New York State of Mind / Don't Ask Me Why / The Ballad of Billy the Kid / I've Loved These Days / Allentown / She's Always a Woman / Auld Lang Syne / Only The Good Die Young / Ode to Joy > My Life / The River of Dreams > With a Little Help From My Friends / Nessun Dorma / Scenes From an Italian Restaurant / Piano Man // ENCORE: We Didn't Start the Fire / Uptown Girl / It's Still Rock and Roll To Me / Souvenir / You May Be Right > Rock and Roll