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Billy Joel’s Big Night at Shea

Mellencamp, Mayer, Henley guest at NY stadium’s final show


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Chad Batka/Corbis

Moments before kicking off the first of two historic gigs at Shea Stadium – the last concerts at the New York Mets’ ballpark before it’s demolished after the baseball season – Billy Joel was in his dressing room, appearing remarkably unfazed. “Everybody’s been asking me, ‘What are you going to do to get psyched up before the show?’ ” he said. “Nothing! It’s when I walk onstage that I get psyched up.” With that, the 59-year-old Joel marched to a stage erected in centre field, where – backed by an extra-large 26-piece band – he delivered more than three hours of classics in front of a sell-out audience of 55,000. (Tickets for the gig were gone in 48 minutes.)

There was no shortage of guest stars at the show: Tony Bennett traded verses with Joel on ‘New York State of Mind,’ John Mellencamp sang ‘Pink Houses,’ Don Henley performed ‘The Boys of Summer,’ and John Mayer sat in on guitar during ‘This Is the Time,’ from Joel’s 1986album The Bridge. Joel also paid tribute to the “greatest band that ever will be,” the Beatles (who played Shea in 1965 and 1966), with loving renditions of ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘She Loves You.’ “Growing up, Billy Joel was always part of the scenery,” Mayer said in the clubhouse before the show. “What an honour to be able to piggyback off someone else’s great honour.”

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