Newsday / John Keating
December 1993-March 1994 (7 shows)
River of Dreams
Though it was an impressive tour for an album that debuted at No. 1, the “River of Dreams” run at Nassau Coliseum — Dec. 29 and 31, 1993; Jan. 2, 4, 6, 8 and March 6, 1994 — was bittersweet.
For opening night, Joel missed daughter Alexa’s eighth birthday party, though he did lead the crowd in a round of “Happy Birthday” that he played for her when he got home. He also dedicated “We Didn’t Start the Fire” to his friend, bassist Howie Blauvelt, who died earlier in the year. At the New Year’s Eve show, Joel fell off the piano and hit his head, forcing him to head to the Garden City Hotel after the show rather than making the long drive out to his then-home in East Hampton.
By the numbers
- Weeks “River of Dreams” spent at No. 1 on the albums chart 3
- Number of minutes in the concert 150
- Attendance for each show 17,847
- Copies of “River of Dreams” sold 5 million
Leave the headsets and production numbers to Janet Jackson and Madonna. These days, in his current state of grace, Billy Joel could probably perform with just a piano and no one would be disappointed — certainly not the devoted crowd that braved the snow to pack Nassau Coliseum Wednesday.
Where other big-league performers strive to create showy illusion loaded with unattainable glamour, Billy Joel still pounds ’em out here on Earth, adding only the self-deprecating flash that acknowledges itself. When he does Elvis Presley arm-and-leg gestures or attempts Joe Tex tricks with the mike stand, Joel isn’t trying to be anything but a humble fan enjoying the reference. And though sincerity, spontaneity and awareness of an audience as people rather than demographic dollar signs are not universal values among arena performers, Billy Joel remains a flesh-and-blood guy who can actually share what’s on his mind with his fans between — and during — songs.
Beginning a long homestand with a show that he announced was being recorded, Joel was the homecoming king, an avuncular hero returning from his travels, a fond nostalgist bringing old songs to old friends. — Ira Robbins, Newsday, Dec. 31, 1993
(Dec. 29, 1993)
No Man’s Land
New York State of Mind
River of Dreams
Prelude/Angry Young Man
The Ballad of Billy the Kid
Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
I Go to Extremes
An Innocent Man
The Downeaster Alexa
We Didn’t Start the Fire
It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me
You May Be Right
Only the Good Die Young
Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)
Keeping the Faith