Billy Joel welcomed surprise guest Olivia Rodrigo Wednesday night during his 82nd consecutive sold-out show at New York’s Madison Square Garden for runs through her hit single “Deja Vu” and his own 1983 smash “Uptown Girl,” released nearly 20 years before Rodrigo was even born.
Decked out in a plunging black top, a brown patterned skirt and black leather boots, Rodrigo saluted Joel’s influence on her songwriting with “Deja Vu,” which references both Joel and “Uptown Girl.” The pair embraced warmly following the latter.
Beyond a steady stream of hits such as “Just the Way You Are,” “Allentown,” “Only the Good Die Young” and “My Life,” Wednesday’s show included rarities such as the opening “A Matter of Trust” (played for the first time since 2019 and featuring Joel on electric guitar rather than piano), “I Go to Extremes” and “The Downeaster Alexa” (with a ripping solo by guitarist Tommy Byrnes).
Joel was in fine, self-deprecating form all night, warning the crowd that he might not reach a key high note in “An Innocent Man” (he hit it quite nicely) and thanking Harry Styles for “taking a night off” from his 15-show MSG residency “so we could squeeze in.”
Rodrigo, 19, is no stranger to including covers in her own sets, mostly consisting of songs from inspirations such as Avril Lavigne (“Complicated”), Veruca Salt (“Seether”) or No Doubt (“Just a Girl”). The pop superstar wrapped a tour in support of her smash hit 2021 debut album “Sour” with a July 6-7 stand at London’s Eventim Apollo. “Sour” garnered three Grammy wins, including best pop vocal album and best new artist for Rodrigo.
Joel, 73, has sold more than 1.5 million tickets and grossed more than $181 million from his MSG residency, which began in 2014 and has previously featured surprise guest turns from Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, Paul Simon, Miley Cyrus and John Mellencamp.
Joel’s final four shows of the year at the venue are set for Sept. 9, Oct. 9, Nov. 23 and Dec. 19.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will also visit Houston’s Minute Maid Park on Sept. 23 and the ATLive festival in Atlanta on Nov. 11 before one-off shows in Auckland on Dec. 3 and Melbourne on Dec. 10 — his first visits to that part of the world in 14 years.
Watch Joel’s introduction of Rodrigo and the duo’s performance below.