Shortly before the demolition of New York City’s Shea Stadium in July 2008, superstar Billy Joel electrified audiences with two memorable concerts at the historic arena. Joel’s special guests included Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, and Sir Paul McCartney whose 1965 appearance there with the Beatles was so iconic.
Paul Crowder’s film, Last Play at Shea, a documentary about those concerts, which intertwined the history of the stadium and the New York Mets with Joel’s New York-centric biography, received accolades when it premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival last October. Stephen Holden of The New York Times dubbed it “exhilarating,” noting of Joel’s musical selections, “His blunt, irresistibly tuneful songs, however autobiographical, are also nuggets of American cultural history.”
Now, those songs, mostly heard in fragmentary form in the documentary, are performed in full in Billy Joel: Live at Shea Stadium, which comes to PBS in March on Great Performances. (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the program Monday, March 7 at 8 p.m. ET, for other markets check local listings)
Great Performances is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
Joel and his band offer definitive and often transcendent versions of hits, rarities, personal favorites and crowd-pleasing surprises, including duets with guests McCartney (“I Saw Her Standing There,” “Let it Be”), Bennett (“New York State of Mind”), and Brooks (“Shameless”).
Built in 1964, Shea Stadium was the home of the New York Mets for 45 years. Designed as a multi-purpose stadium, Shea became the birthplace of arena rock when the Beatles appeared there on August 15, 1965, establishing the ballpark as a pinnacle venue for rock’s biggest names. The Who, The Police, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and others have all played Shea.
Chosen as the last rock act to play the venue, Billy Joel staged his “Last Play at Shea” concerts on July 16 and July 18, 2008, rocking a combined audience of 110,000 fans with one of the most emotionally charged shows ever played at the historic stadium. After 45 years, two New York Mets World Series victories, the arena debut of The Beatles and Billy Joel’s “Last Play At Shea,” the final section of Shea Stadium was torn down in 2009.
Angry Young Man
Always a Woman
New York State of Mind (with Tony Bennett)
Shameless (with Garth Brooks)
River of Dreams/Hard Days Night
We Didn’t Start the Fire
I Saw Her Standing There (Paul McCartney)
Take Me Out to the Ball Game/Piano Man
Let it Be (Paul McCartney)
The concert will be released a CD/DVD set as well as a stand-alone DVD and stand-alone Blu-ray disc by Sony Music on March 8.
It was co-produced (with Steve Cohen) and directed for television by Jon Small, and edited by Laura Young. Executive producers: David Horn and Todd Kamelhar. For Great Performances, Cara Cosentino is producer; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and public television viewers.