Perhaps it was the warm weather or maybe it was the built-up anticipation, but Long Islanders filed into the renovated Nassau Coliseum for Billy Joel’s opening night show with spring in their step on Wednesday.
“Finally, it doesn’t look so rundown,” said Brian Carney, 29, of Long Beach about the new digs.
Joanne DiGiaro, 31, of Valley Stream added, “I like that they kept the glass doors so you can see in all around the arena.”
The decor inside the NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum caught the eye of Paul Tropeano, 56, of West Islip, who works in construction. “I love the wood beams on the ceiling. It gives the place a nautical feel,” he said while enjoying a drink at the Blue Moon Beer Garden. “They also did a nice job with the colors, which makes the place warm and inviting.”
Sean Congema, 15, of Commack was having his first arena concert experience with his mother, Dawn. “This is amazing,” he said all wide-eyed. “I love the JetBlue Overlook [the lounge area behind the main entrance]. It’s really cool and modern looking.”
However, one big complaint echoed all around. Concertgoers were shocked at the $40 parking fee.
“It’s simply not fair,” said Richie Day, 64, of Inwood. “The consumer is at their mercy with no public transportation. The LIRR doesn’t stop here.”
Bill Fuhrman, 66, of Laurel Hollow agreed. “Forty dollars? I didn’t pay that to park at Disney World.”
A certain hockey team was also on many people’s minds.
“The Islanders need to be here,” said Pete Juranich, 70, of Malverne between bites of a Nathan’s hot dog. “We need them now more than ever.”
Dave Stolarz, 53, of Hicksville, where Joel grew up, summed up the sentiment of the evening with a wink toward local politics.
“No matter what goes on in Nassau County, everyone can still rally around Billy Joel.”
And concertgoers surely did. As the show came to a close, Mike Natale, 49, of East Meadow shouted, “10 out of 10!”
Jenn Hecker, 53, of Plainview was excited Joel played “The Downeaster Alexa” because she named her daughter Alexa Ray after Joel’s daughter.
“Billy’s a staple on Long Island,” she said. “His shows are like going to your favorite restaurant — it’s always good.”