Remembering Mets History (2008) Billy Joel Plays the Final Concert at Shea Stadium

centerfieldmaz attended this concert in 2008 & wrote a concert review on this site that was very new at the time. With some updates to photo's & to how some of the events took place, here is pretty much the same review as it was posted July 19th 2008.

Friday July 18th, 2008: This was an epic three-and-a-half-hour marathon concert of Biblical proportions. The last Concert ever to be held at Shea Stadium was definitely one for the ages. One of the best of the so many concerts I have attended. Tonight, Ghosts from the past came to Shea Stadium to Shea Goodbye!

Let's begin with the crowd & the mood. Being a Shea Stadium veteran, I know my way around to Shea without hitting much traffic and parked on Northern Blvd. right off 126th St. It's amazing how no one knows these are legal spaces.(The lots were charging $30). 

The crowd was of all ages from teens to people in their sixties. It was a sell out of about 65,00
dancing, singing, and shaking the rafters at Shea. 

It was a great enthusiastic crowd that would ecstatic more than once through out the night. And by the end of the night were completely exhausted from excitement and blown away. Billy Joel hit the stage after 8:30 on a hot humid New York night. 

A Beatles fan could not help thinking of the magic nights in 1965 & 1966 when the Beatles played Shea on a similar hot humid night. The ghosts of the Beatles were definitely visible tonight. As rumors began circulating all week that Paul or Ringo may show up. Billy Joel was actually wearing the same Wells Fargo Badge that Ringo Starr had worn playing drums at Shea in 1965. 

Yes there was magic in the air. Billy was absolutely fantastic as he rocked through the night alternating between classic rockers & slow ones. He wore all black with pants & a black sport jacket which made us wonder how he didn't pass out from the heat. He kept wiping his head with wet towels even wearing them on his head to keep cool for a couple of songs. 

His voice was great but began to show some wear at the end of the show. The stage was massive as Joel played his heart out on a rotating Baby Grand piano through the night. He also played guitar and sang standing up on the mic for a few tunes.

The video screens were huge, I am estimating about 40 feet high on both sides of the stage. They were designed in the shape of the New York skyline and besides showing Billy & the band, flashed New York themed scenes including some Met's shots. 

I was very impressed with sound as it was on a Pink Floydian level, massive speakers belting out a crisp clear sound from where I was sitting about two o'clock from the stage in the field box seats.

He had a full band, with horn section, and the orchestra from the Broadway musical " Moving Out". Which of course is based on the music of Billy Joel.

A familiar face to myself and Beatles fans was Brooklyn native Mark Riveria. Mark has played on 5 Ringo Starr tours, played with John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, and of course has been with Billy Joel since the early eighties and many of those classic horn parts are his. 

He had the center spotlight on all the Joel classics with sax parts, as well as singing backing vocals. He sported a Met's Jersey by the end of the night!

If Billy Joel's set list wasn't enough (see below) here's who showed up as Billy's special guests to Say Good Bye to Shea! 

During "New York State of Mind" Tony Bennett came out and sang to the delight of the crowd with Joel. Everyone to their feet singing along and cheering on New York and giving Bennett a huge ovation. 

 Country singer Garth Brooks came out wearing a Met's jersey with the number one -Brooks on the back. He & Billy did a great rendition of "Shameless". During "Goodnight Saigon"

 Billy had members of the U.S. Military, FDNY & NYPD on stage singing the "We will all go down together" parts. This was very touching and brought the crowd to its feet with a standing ovation & chants of U.S.A. !! U.S.A.!!

Next up Billy announced another native New Yorker -Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, who came out in his classic leopard shirt & hanging scarves singing "Walk this Way" to a surprised crowd beginning to go insane. 

Billy then introduced " A man who played Shea Stadium long before I ever did" Roger Daltrey of the Who! 

Daltrey played "My Generation" to a now absolutely ecstatic crowd. Roger in round Lennon like sunglasses gave a smashing, stuttering performance of the Who classic, with Billy Joel playing guitar and smashing it to bits, ala the Who at the end of the song!

Billy went into You May Be Right & the concert ended. But the was a lot more to come. Billy & the band came out for two more of his classics from the Stranger album,  "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" & "Only the Good Die Young".

It was later learned that Billy kept playing not only to keep entertaining but to stall for time. Paul McCartney was on a plane to New York & was running a bit late. He arrived at JFK & had a police escort that got him to Shea Stadium in eleven minutes. 

Originally when Joel asked him to play he had said he couldn't make it. That night on his way to the concert Joel got a call from Billy saying he was coming to New York, but it didn't look like he'd make it play. 

Billy said he was informed near the end of the show "that the eagle had landed". 

Paul brought was driven through the bowels of Shea Stadium by legendary Mets ground keeper, Pete Flynn who had also driven the Beatles to the armored car in 1964. 

Then it happened as if all this wasn't enough, all the rumors turned out to be true! Billy Joel brought out "Sir Paul McCartney" to absolute bedlam. I don't know if I have ever seen a crowd so happy & blown away. 

After all the hype and all the great singers that had graced the stage throughout the night, Paul's appearance was the climax. As if the Rock & Roll Holy One himself had appeared on stage. The ghosts of the Beatles at Shea in 1965 had come alive.

Quotes- Paul McCartney: "I played here many years ago & had a lot of fun, we are gonna have a lot of fun playing here tonight too"-

To see Paul McCartney play "I Saw Her Standing There" at Shea Stadium was one of the best concert moments I have ever had. Imagine 65,000 people singing, dancing, jumping up & down smiling. 

In total amazement, looking at each other in shock as Macca sang "She was just 17, You know what I mean......" in Shea Stadium. It was of Biblical proportions !!! You knew the spirits of John & George were smiling down on us too.

If that wasn't enough Billy then rocked out an incredible set of his classics in between all his guests which led to two incredible encores of "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" &"
Only the Good Die Young". 

Those singalongs and the ones to "She's Always a Woman" , "Captain Jack" & "My Life" are as passionate as any in music. 

A worn out ecstatic crowd chanted "Lets go Billy!!" as an exhausted Joel came stumbling to the stage and played his classic "Piano Man" on piano with harmonica attached to him. It was the biggest barroom singalong ever as 65,000 people helped carry Billy through the vocals. This was another great moment of the night and one of the best in rock and roll.

Just as you thought it was over, Billy stepped aside and and let Paul McCartney sing the final song at Shea Stadium. As Billy & Macca hugged & kissed each other, Paul got on piano and did "Let It Be". How fitting.
People were again blown away to epic proportions. Some smiled, some laughed, most sang, some held each other, waved their arms in the air and some even had tears in their eyes. It was an amazing touching moment. 

 I was at Shea Stadium for Game #6 of the 1986 World Series, nothing will ever beat that. But this concert was probably my second-best experience at Shea Stadium ever. And I have been to three World Series games, an NL pennant clincher, an Eastern title clincher, many playoff games, hundreds of regular season games & 4 concerts in that Stadium. 

 A DVD movie with all the special guests and Billy's classic performances is scheduled to be released called "Last Play at Shea". It will also cover stories of all the concerts at Shea from the Beatles to Billy Joel. I can't wait............... 

Billy Joel Set List: 
The Last Concert at Shea Stadium 7/18/08 
Star Spangled Banner 
Miami 2017 
Angry Young Man 
The Entertainer 
My Life
Summer, Highland Falls 
 Ballad of Billy The Kid
New York State of Mind (with Tony Bennett)
Moving Out
Rootbeer Rag 
Goodnight Saigon (with U.S. Military) 
Don't Ask Me Why 
Keeping the Faith 
Down Easter Alexa 
Innocent Man 
Shameless (with Garth Brooks) 
She's Always A Woman 
Captain Jack
Lullaby River of Dreams 
A Hard Days Night 
Walk this Way (Steven Tyler) 
We Didn't Start the Fire
It's Still Rock & Roll To Me 
My Generation (Roger Daltrey) 
You May Be Right 

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
 Only the Good Die Young
I Saw Her Standing There (Paul McCartney)
Piano Man / Let It Be (Paul McCartney)

-Billy Joel: "This stadium opened up to play baseball in the year 1964 and that was the first year I joined up in a band. 

They're gonna tear this house down but I want to thank you for letting me keep doing this job. It's the best job."


Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Couldn't have said it better myself. I've been to 100's of concert, but this one was historic.
I was sitting in Mezz Sec 12 (close to our Sunday home). During WDSTF you could see the upper deck shacking above us (I will admitt it was a little scary). Couldn't see Billy too good from there, but the screens were so huge, and the sound so loud it didn't matter. I had an incredible time. Lets Go Mets!

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