Last month, Bruce Springsteen led Jersey4Jersey, a livestreamed concert benefiting COVID-19 relief efforts in the state of New Jersey. On Monday, New York held its own virtual fundraising event, headlined by its own local hero in Billy Joel.
Following appearances by New York celebrities (Spike Lee, Jennifer Lopez, Robert De Niro) and politicians (Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayer Bill De Blasio), the Piano Man himself closed out the virtual telethon. Joel aptly chose to pay tribute to the Big Apple, the war-weary epicenter of the pandemic, by playing a moving rendition of his 1976 single “Miami 2017”, also known as “Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway”.
As Rise Up New York!’s main event of the evening, Joel’s performance was broadcast on big screens all across the shuttered city, including Times Square and the Theater District. The Empire State Building, a New York icon much like Joel himself, also had its own light show to accompany “Miami 2017”. Joel had to postpone his long-running Madison Square Garden residency because of the outbreak, but last night, he still managed to play loud and proud for his hometown.
Joel signed off from the benefit livestream by saying, “Stay safe New York, please wear a mask. That way, you won’t catch anything from anybody.” Per Stereogum, it was a fitting farewell given Joel normally closes his MSG shows with the phrase “don’t take any shit from anybody.”
Hosted by Tina Fey, Rise Up New York! was organized by iHeartMedia and Robin Hood, a charitable organization that fights poverty in the city. Additional performers included Mariah Carey, Sting, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Idina Menzel, Alicia Keys, and Jon Bon Jovi. Overall, the telethon raised a massive $115 million dollars.
Watch Joel’s poignant “Miami 2017” performance below.