When my parents and I set out for Foxborough, MA, on Saturday afternoon, the weather prognosis was not good. Rain from Tropical Storm Ophelia was circling New England and the temperatures were clocking in at about 52 degrees.
But I couldn’t bring myself to care because we were going to see Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks perform on the same stage in the same night.
The show was at Gillette Stadium, which is an enormous venue that is not covered one bit. The stadium holds around 65,000 people, according to their website, but the capacity numbers can change depending on how the stage is set up by each artist to potentially accommodate an additional 5-6,000 people.
The anticipation of arrival
When we first arrived at Gillette Stadium, we parked over in the general parking lot, which was very quickly filling up with people who showed up to see two icons, regardless of the weather. Before starting the trek across Route 1 to the stadium, we suited up in our ponchos and rain suits, making sure we had enough layers on to stay warm and hopefully relatively dry.
After doing the obligatory security check and ticket scans, I was pleased to discover that unbeknownst to me, I had purchased seats in the club section of the stadium. I had never been to Gillette Stadium, so I had no idea what this meant. After asking one of the security guards, she quickly explained to me that we had access to the indoor lounge, which had floor to ceiling windows overlooking the stadium and stage. Most importantly, however, the lounge was heated and covered.
A win, indeed.
We ended up staying in the lounge until a little after 7 o’clock, when the majestic Stevie Nicks entered the stage.
The queen herself, Stevie Nicks
She opened the show with “Outside the Rain,” from her 1981 album Bella Donna. Appropriate given the weather circumstances.
Following this, she launched directly into the Fleetwood Mac hit, “Dreams.” Despite the song’s claims, luckily for us, there was no thunder to accompany the rain on Saturday. She followed with “If Anyone Falls,” before moving into “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” during which Billy Joel came out donning a blue umbrella to fulfill Tom Petty’s part of the song.
Stevie took brief intermissions between songs to continually thank the crowd for still coming out to the show in the rain, which was a kind acknowledgement, although it feels important to note that those on stage were getting just as wet as those of us in the stands.
She then went on to sing “Fall From Grace,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy,” “Stand Back,” “Wild Heart,” and “Bella Donna.”
Following an angelic performance of “Gold Dust Woman,” in which the rain poured down particularly heavily and gold lights ascended over the stage, Stevie announced to the crowds that her earpiece had died at the beginning of the song and she had no background music while she was singing.
“I just sang that acapella!” She exclaimed to the crowd. “Good on you, Stevie, for knowing your songs so well,” she laughed.
In an ode to her dear friend, Tom Petty, she sang a cover of “Free Fallin’” before closing out the show with the beloved “Edge of Seventeen.”
After a few minutes offstage, Stevie came back out to perform the Fleetwood Mac hits “Rhiannon” and “Landslide.” During “Landslide,” photos of Stevie and the late Christine McVie floated along the four huge screens behind her, making for an emotional performance.
The song already means so much to me personally, and it affected me even more to see Stevie get emotional while singing it on stage.
Before exiting, she thanked us all once again for weathering the storm and showing up for them, and told us that each time she comes on stage, the crowd heals her grief over losing Christine a little bit more. It was a beautiful sentiment and only served to endear her more to everyone in the crowd.
The incomparable Billy Joel
After about a half hour intermission, Billy Joel came out to rock the stage. He opened with “My Life,” which we missed the first part of in the mad dash from the bathroom back out to our seats. After his opener, he told the crowd that he had good news and bad news. The bad news was that he had no new music to play. The good news, however, was that we didn’t “have to listen to shitty new music.”
He followed with “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” “The Downeaster Alexa,” and “Just the Way You Are,” before launching into a few snippets of the Beatles’ “Rain,” and “Crying in the Rain,” by the Everly Brothers.
In between songs, he briefly spoke about the process of writing the songs, the albums they were on, and what years they came out. It was nice to hear about the behind-the-scenes process of writing and creating music that we as fans aren’t often privy to.
From there, he sang “Zanzibar” and “An Innocent Man.”
To make sure his band was all in harmony (not that they needed the additional practice), he introduced snippets of “Barbar’ Ann,” by the Beach Boys and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” before going directly into “The Longest Time.”
Bouncing from album to album like he had been all night, he then performed “Don’t Ask Me Why,” followed by “Vienna,” “Allentown,” “Sometimes a Fantasy,” “Only the Good Die Young,” and “River of Dreams.”
Billy then took a step away from the mic and allowed one of his guitar players, Mike DelGuidice, to take over and sing “Nessun dorma,” originally from the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Turandot.”
He resumed his spot behind the piano for “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” which got everyone shouting the words and dancing once again.
Saving the best for last, he performed “Piano Man,” as the rain decided to come down harder than it had all evening. Maybe it was the sheer size of the crowd, but I have never heard so many people sing an artist’s song back to them that loudly (and I’ve been to my fair share of concerts).
There was something so healing about screaming the lyrics to “Piano Man” with thousands of people that you don’t know in the pouring rain.
After this, he left the stage briefly before returning for his five song encore, which included the fan favorites “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Uptown Girl,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” (which included a brief snippet of “Rock n’ Roll” by Led Zeppelin, sung once again by Mike DelGuidice), “Big Shot,” and finally, “You May Be Right.”
Overall, the rain and wind didn’t dampen the crowd’s excitement one bit, nor did it affect their performances. I can honestly say, without a doubt, that it was the best concert I have ever been to, and will likely be hard to beat going forward.
To listen to the setlist from the show, listen to our playlist here https://open.spotify.com/playlist/455I36WPB9ciiqqmNcK5uH?si=211cb53822b8457a.