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 alternatingng 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 kool for a couple of songs, looking like the emperor from Star Wars. 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.
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!
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 3 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
Angry Young Man
Ballad of Billy The Kid
New York State of Mind (with Tony Bennett)
Goodnight Saigon (with U.S. Military)
Don't Ask Me Why
Keeping the Faith
Down Easter Alexa
Shameless (with Garth Brooks)
She's Always A Woman
River of Dreams
A Hard Days Night
Walk this Way (Steven Tyler)
We Didn't Start the Fire
My Generation (Roger Daltrey)
You May Be Right
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
Only the Good Die Young
Let It Be (Paul McCartney)
"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."-Billy Joel