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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Billy Joel and New York City

It was one of those weekends that keeps your smiling well into the middle of the week.  This weekend was busy, all over the place, chaotic, and wonderful.

Thursday, Thatcher arrived from Salt Lake City, to spend a weekend so we could use my Christmas present.  Christmas eve, I unwrapped a few gifts, but one was in a small box.

NO- it is not what you are thinking.  But it is better.  In this box, was two tickets to see Billy Joel in concert at Madison Square Garden, in New York City on March 21st.  The combination of the wine, and the tickets had me in a teary giggle as I realized I was going to check another item off the bucket list.  I have always wanted to see Billy Joel in concert but with his very limited touring schedule and high price tickets, I stuck to some quality time with Mr. Joel on my Ipod.  Until Friday night.

Mid-day Friday we drove from Old Lyme to New Haven and caught the 12:30 train out of Union Station New Haven and into Grand Central, NYC.

I saw this little gem etched into the bathroom stall at Union Station and had to take a picture :) 

We were on the run, so we grabbed a foot long sub to split on the ride to NYC. 

We arrived in new York City a little before 3 and Grand Central was looking as beautiful and busy as ever.  I did the math and realized it was only a mile from Grand Central to Madison Square Garden (and our hotel) so we decided to walk and enjoy the sunny day and the hustle and bustle of the city. I am usually not a big "city fan" but I was really enjoying the change of scenery and the change of pace, and getting to enjoy the city with Thatcher.

While our hotel was no 5 star luxury treat, it was directly across the street from Madison Square Garden.  Location, location, location, right?

I got this super cute/wierd little dress at H&M ( $9.99!)and loved it in this weird grandma floral print sort of way.  It was sooo comfortable, and had a swoop neckline in the front and the back.  I paired it with some fun gold jewelry and a pair of tights before we walked the mile towards Times Square for our 5 o clock dinner reservation. 

 I have been obsessed with Open Table lately and grabbed a 5 o clock reservation at the Fig & Olive for 1,000 points :) 

They had a  "happy hour special"  so Thatcher got the El Matador, a spicy martini while I went with a fun play on a julep.  They were both delicious but Thatcher's cocktail was insanely spicy (even for him...).  I would probably stay away from this one folks. 

Next they brought us some delicious bread with three different olive oils to sample.  This was super fun for me... I have never sampled different kinds of olive oils and it was really interesting to compare the flavors... one was fruity while another one was quite bitter. 

As a part of the happy hour special, they offer a variety of tasting plates for $7.  This was a steal and after eating this one we wished we had just ordered a few of these for dinner.  This was a tasting plate from "Spain".  Manchego cheese, fig spread, olives, tuna, and a beef tartar.  It was all sooooo amazing. 

For the main course I got a paella (I love seafood more than anything) and Thatcher got the Chicken Tajin - chicken on the bone in a broth with veggies and couscous on the side.  

Everything was amazing and we were both so happy with our dishes.  It was probably the best meal we have had since the Copper Onion in Salt Lake City for my birthday weekend.  The atmosphere was wonderful, the service was great, they explained everything they brought over, and food was present in perfect timing.

We walked back to the hotel and enjoyed the chaos and lights that is Times Square.   Billboards, ads, random characters in costumes, restaurants, and herds of people.  

FINALLY it was time for Billy Joel.  I had no idea who was opening but we headed over at 7:30, grabbed a few drinks, and went to our seats.  Thatcher did good. Madison Square Garden is HUGE and we had fantastic seats.  We were on the main floor level, the second group back.  The best part?  We were in the front row of that second group so we had lots of space and a clear view to the stage.  

I was so excited when I found out GAVIN DEGRAW was opening up for Billy Joel!  I love love love his music, and especially love his new hits.  Especially Best I Ever Had-  He sang this song walking around the Garden.  He walked right in front of me and while I tried to boogy with GD, he completely ignored me.  Oh well.  

Well, finally it was Billy Joel time. 
 He came out and sat at his piano and everyone went wild. 

He was fatter and older and balder than I remembered (truth), but his voice sounds the same as it does on his albums from the 70's.  You know the feeling of disappointment you get when you see one of your favorite artists in concert and they sound NOTHING like the cd?... well this was the opposite.  He sang along and played the piano and it was everything you expected.  He had a full band with violins, saxophones, drums, guitars, everything, and of course he even played the harmonica while simultaneously playing the piano and singing.

The first half of his concert he played some of his less known music which was fun and different, but a little boring.  Then all of the sudden, he said he had a surprise.  Out comes the lead singer of ACDC to sing You Shook Me All Night Long and the crowd went WILD!  
What a fun surprise and change of pace. 

After this he played all of his classics, including New York State of Mind and Uptown girl, Always a Woman, Movin Out, It's Still Rock and Roll to me, many many others.   He did not play the Downeaster Alexa, my favorite song, but when you have been a professional musician for over 50 years, you have a lot of music and simply can't play them all- I feel you Billy.  The music was great and even Thatcher who doesn't really know much about Billy Joel, really enjoyed the concert and the music.

After the concert, we rode the subway all the way to Brooklyn where we met two of Thatcher's friends from Old Lyme who know live in the city.  We met Frank, Kevin, wife and girlfriend at the Zombie Hut in Brooklyn.   After a few drinks and catching up, we headed back to our hotel room for the night.

What a wonderful night filled with good food, a city, Billy Joel, and friends.

Good Night New York 

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