Kevin Mazur“I grew up about 15 minutes from here,” Billy Joel said Monday night from the stage of the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  “I don’t get to play in Long Island too much anymore.”

Indeed, while Billy lives on Long Island, The Piano Man’s ongoing monthly residency at New York City’s Madison Square Garden means he doesn’t have many opportunities to perform on his home turf.  His last New Year’s Eve concert at the venue was in 1989, but he made up for it Monday night with two-and-a-half hours of hits, beloved album cuts and memories. 

And the crowd, many of whom had waited outside in the pouring rain, ate it up.  “Thanks for coming out on such a s***ty nite,” said Billy.

As with his Garden shows, Billy’s between-song patter was a trip down memory lane, as he noted which year each song was released and what was happening both in the world, and in his life at the time. “Oh, yeah! I got divorced,” he cracked about one year.

Unlike the Garden shows, no special guests appeared Monday night — unless you count actor Kevin James in a blonde wig prancing across the stage during “Uptown Girl.”  But with a catalog that includes “River of Dreams,” “My Life,” “It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me,” “Big Shot” and “New York State of Mind,” no special guests were needed.

As always, Billy’s band was excellent, able to digress as easily into classic rock staples like “Layla” and “Sunshine of Your Love,” as they were into actual classical music, including “Nessun Dorma” and “Ode to Joy.” A full rendition of “With a Little Help from My Friends” — with Billy doing his best Joe Cocker impression — was a highlight.

Because it was New Year’s Eve, the crowd also heard a few appropriately-themed songs that Billy rarely plays: “This Is the Time,” from 1986’s The Bridge; “I’ve Loved These Days,” from 1976’s Turnstiles, and “Souvenir,” from 1974’s Streetlife Serenade.

As midnight approached, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve with Ryan Seacrest appeared on the video screens, and the whole crowd counted down to 2019.  As confetti exploded, Billy, who’d donned a “Happy New Year” hat, sang “Auld Lang Syne,” as a banner reading “Billy Joel: 34 Sold Out Shows” was unfurled from the venue’s ceiling.

“Get home safely tonight. Don’t drink and drive,” Billy cautioned. “Do what I do. Jump into a limousine!”

Here’s the set list for Billy’s concert at NYCB Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum:

“Big Shot”
“Miami 2017”
“The Entertainer”
“The Downeaster ‘Alexa'”
“Big Man on Mulberry Street.”
“This Is the Time”
“Movin’ Out” with snippets of “Layla” and “Sunshine of Your Love”
“New York State of Mind”
“Don’t Ask Me Why”
“Ballad of Billy the Kid”
“I’ve Loved these Days”
“She’s Always a Woman”
New Year’s Eve Countdown
“Auld Lang Syne”
“Only the Good Die Young”
“My Life” with “Ode to Joy” intro
“River of Dreams” with “With a Little Help from My Friends” interlude
“Nessun Dorma” (sung by Mike DelGuidice)
“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”
“Piano Man”

“We Didn’t Start the Fire”
“Uptown Girl”
“It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me”
“You May Be Right,” joined by opening act Gavin DeGraw, included snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”

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