Dec. 21 & 31, 1989 (2 shows) Storm Front
Photo credit: Newsday / John Keating

Dec. 21 & 31, 1989 (2 shows)

Storm Front

Inspired by a visit with Sean Lennon, who worried about the state of the world in 1989, Joel wrote “We Didn’t Start the Fire” to chronicle what he had seen and survived in his lifetime. He may not have started “the fire,” but one had certainly been lit in him in terms of social causes. In addition to “Fire,” Joel focused on the plight of Long Island’s baymen in “The Downeaster ‘Alexa'” both on the “Storm Front” album and in his concerts.

By the numbers

  • Cost of a ticket $22.50
  • Amount brokers were charging for prime seats $500
  • Copies of “Storm Front” sold 4 million
  • Tickets confiscated from scalpers by police and donated to Little Flower Children’s Services 28
Set list


In Joel’s guileless good humor, the sentimentality of his records — toward the Long Island fishermen, toward a stylized myth of tight-trousered adolescence, or that New York state of mind — came off as genuine affection. Even the deliberate mush-headedness of “Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me” and “You May Be Right” became direct and inspiring.

There is a line somewhere between self-indulgence and just playing around, and Joel, even at his hammiest, kept to the right side of it. … He emanated corniness like gamma rays. He boxed with his microphone stand, held himself as if nailed to the cross, and even assumed the sprinter’s starting position atop his black baby grand. And for some unfathomable reason, he used smoke machines almost continuously throughout the show. But in his hometown, it all played as good-natured hucksterism; we were always in on the fun. Joel was Buster Poindexter without the hip distancing.

And that was, for all the surprisingly good music, the most striking thing about the evening. It was rare to see a star of his stature be so unguarded onstage. What I missed most in the Rolling Stones — some sense of self, a rapport with the audience — Joel delivered in spades. — John Leland, Newsday, Dec. 23, 1989



(Dec. 21, 1989)

Storm Front


Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)

Prelude/Angry Young Man

New York State of Mind

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

The Downeaster Alexa

Goodnight Saigon

I Go to Extremes


Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas


An Innocent Man

Big Man on Mulberry Street


We Didn’t Start the Fire

Uptown Girl

It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me

You May Be Right

Only the Good Die Young

A Matter of Trust

Big Shot

Keeping the Faith

Piano Man