Steven Performs "Walk This Way" At Shea Stadium

July 19, 2008

Paul McCartney Joins Billy Joel at Shea Stadium

It takes a lot to upstage Billy Joel at Shea Stadium.

But late on Friday night, nearly three hours into a career-spanning performance advertised as the last concert at Shea before it was to be demolished, Mr. Joel seemed happy to turn over the spotlight to Paul McCartney, who, he said, had just flown in from London.

The sold-out crowd of 55,000 people let out an ear-splitting roar as Mr. McCartney sang the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” with Mr. Joel singing backup and, fitting his reputation as a self-deprecating rock star, looking on from his piano as if he were just another fan himself.

Before beginning “Let It Be,” Mr. McCartney alluded to the Beatles’ first concert at Shea in 1965, the year after the stadium opened.

“It’s so cool to be back here on the last night,” he said. “Been here a long time ago — we had a blast that night, and we’re having another one tonight.”

The concert was the second of two farewell shows by Mr. Joel, who told the crowd earlier in the night: “They’re tearing this house down. I want to thank you for letting me do the job and keep doing it — the best job in the world.”

Mr. McCartney wasn’t the only big guest. The country star Garth Brooks, dressed in a Mets T-shirt, sang Mr. Joel’s “Shameless,” which was a big hit for Mr. Brooks; Steven Tyler of Aerosmith performed “Walk This Way;” and Roger Daltrey of the Who — which played at Shea in 1982 — sang “My Generation” as Mr. Joel smashed a guitar on the center-field stage.

Before the show, fans praised Mr. Joel, Long Island’s favorite son, as an approachable superstar whose songs chronicle everyday New York lives and struggles. “Only New Yorkers have a true sense of what he talks about,” said Lauren Marchiano, 26. As an avowed follower of both Mr. Joel and the Mets, she said, the night was doubly poignant for her.

But the most popular topic of conversation seemed to be how much everyone had paid to get in. Ronnie Glowacki, an administrative assistant from Brooklyn, had been frozen out when tickets went on sale in February; she would say only that she paid “somewhere between zero and $500” to get in on Friday. A Yankees fan, she was there to catch what could be a last glimpse — not of Shea Stadium, but of Mr. Joel.

“I don’t know how much longer he’s going to be doing concerts, so I want to get every one I can get in,” she said. “For me it’s all Billy.”

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